Thursday, February 4, 2010
Conflict is Good?
I had never really given much thought to the idea that conflict could be a good thing, that is, until I heard Pastor Steve's reflection on this past Sunday's Gospel passage. Since I did not go home at all, I had the pleasure to be able to go to the Tyson House Episcopal-Lutheran Ministry worship service. The usual pastor was on vacation, so Pastor Steve was the special guest.
I did not even know what the readings were for that Sunday. Usually I attend Mass at St. Thomas so I know what will be read later that night at Tyson House. On a side note...the first time I went to Mass and the Tyson House service on the same day, I realized that readings were essentially the same ones. How cool! Of course Episcopalians, Catholics, and Lutherans are similar in many ways, but even having the same Sunday readings was a nice surprise!
Anyway, enough with the bunny trail. In the Gospel this past Sunday, Jesus went into the temple, and said, "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." Those who heard him speak were amazed. Then he went on to say, "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place." Then the people in the synagogue went after him, trying to hurl him down the hill.
Wanting to throw him down the hill! Jesus certainly stirred something up, causing conflict. Yet, the funny thing is, he did so knowing that the outcome wouldn't be a nice one. Pastor Steve went on to say that even Jesus recognized that conflict was good and useful at times. Conflict is a way to open doors, hearts, and minds to what might have been ignored for forever. I wish I could remember more of Pastor Steve's points because they were all very good, but alas my mind has inconveniently forgotten some of them.
There are different kinds of conflict. For me it varies from the trivial to facetious to important: Batman or Superman shirt this morning? laughing or not laughing when someone trips/falls/slides across the ice? not studying or studying? standing up for myself and my beliefs or folding and being silent? arguing or just leaving the issue alone? There are many things that create conflict, and there are many ways to respond and act. Pastor Steve repeated several times something along the lines that the kind of conflict that we are most frightened by is the kind that makes our heart pound, our hands sweat, and our entire body shake.
We've all been taught that starting conflicts is a negative thing. Being a part of conflict isn't fun either. But until I realized that Jesus often created conflict merely by trying to bring others to the Father or was at the very center of another man's conflict, I always thought that it was a bad thing. It can be good when used for good. Jesus knew that, and what He did forever changed the world and me.
At the end of the last conflict...with his heart pounding, his hands sweating, and his entire body shaking, Jesus stretched out his arms on the cross and died. His death brought salvation to the world.
Makes you look at conflict differently, doesn't it?