FAMILIES fight. There, I said it.
Families have this phenomenon about them that suggests, that, though there is great love, there is also great difference, and more than occasionally it happens; that diversity of nature and opinion is not appreciated.
Of course, we all know of families that couldn’t coexist — whether by divorce, or children departing from parents, or parents saying we must leave you (an adult) to your own devices is just illustrative. There are times when the closest to us rub us up the wrong way. There are also times when, for our own health, or theirs, there must be a separation.
But there is always the opportunity to view family as sacred to the enterprise of life.
The enterprise of life is much more enjoyable, satisfying and sustainable when we have those we love travel it with us.
Now this is where the church fits in. I reflect over the fact that many people stay at their church fellowship when there may be clear elements of internal discord in them about the church.
What I have concluded is this: people stay at a church even if there is only one vibrant reason to stay when there may be several reasons to go. The opposite would also be true, and that could fit the vast majority of us, given that there is no perfect church fellowship, nor are there perfect pastors or leaders of any church.
The reason people stay is that they accept there are ‘family’ they don’t particularly like. There are people who go to their church, or people who lead in their church, that they don’t like. But they tolerate them, because there is at least one purpose for them to stay.
Churches are very similar to families. When we join a church, and take up the privilege of membership, we assign ourselves to that family. It is something that comes with the territory. We agree that we won’t always agree. We agree that we will endeavour to find a way to forgive others’ trespasses against us as our Father has forgiven ours.
We are bound to fight with family. We live in such proximity. But we forgive. And that’s why we grow together — our love is more compelling that our differences. It’s the same for churches.
The ultimate answer to all church conflict is we are all different, yet none are better nor worse than the others. Differences are to be tolerated, not condemned. Love is bigger than even the sum of us.
Love looks past the person, past the problem, and even past the purpose. Love loves the person, without condition.
Love looks to accept what cannot ever be changed: we are different, yet the same; we expect to be loved when, at times, we will not love back.
Love will see us through any family (or church) dispute. Love grows us through conflict.
Love looks to love, no matter what. Love overcomes insecurity through maturity.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.