Conflict Resolution in the Shadow of the Cross (Part 7)

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In his truly fascinating book, The Patient Ferment of the Early Church, Alan Kreider describes a practice that was widespread in the early church, the “kiss of peace.” Kreider writes:

After the believers have concluded the prayers, according to Tertullian “they shall give the kiss of peace.” Tertullian is the inventor of the term “the kiss of peace.”…When Tertullian wrote, peacemaking in worship already had a considerable history. From a very early date, both the author of the Didache and Hermas saw reconciliation as a precondition for the community to celebrate the Lord’s Supper; and in the mid-second century, in the early stages of the morning service tradition, Justin Martyr reported that in his Roman house church “we greet each other with a kiss” after the common prayers, evidently as a means of preparing relationships for the Eucharist that followed immediately. In the morning service tradition, the peace greeting occupied a sensitive, crucial position between these central actions of early Christian worship, the prayers and the Lord’s Supper. The kiss of peace formed a ritual bridge between them that had its own significance. At the heart of Christian worship was a community whose habitus both celebrated and made peace.[1]

Christians early on exchanged a “kiss of peace” as a sign that their relationships had been transformed in and through Christ Jesus. The practice came from Romans 16:16a, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” It was act that had to be monitored, of course, for it could give way to abuses. So you find in the early church warnings about keeping the “kiss of peace” chaste and appropriate and worshipful. This practice has continued into our own day in some churches literally and in many other churches verbally through the “passing of the peace.” In these churches there is a time in the service in which the congregants go to one another and say something like, “The peace of God with you” and you are to respond, “And also with you.” This is one modern continuation of the “kiss of peace” without the awkwardness (for modern Americans) of an actual kiss. And, perhaps more familiar to us, the tradition has continued on in many churches in the form of the handshake and hug that happens in our worship services. These are all varied modern expressions of the ancient Christian “kiss of peace.”

Now, I am not in favor of bringing back a literal kiss of peace. There is too wide a cultural disconnect and I can frankly think of few things more horrific in modern North American churches than asking everybody to start kissing one another! But what intrigues me is the fact that this practice was so ubiquitous in the early church. In his book Kissing Christians: Ritual and Community in the Late Ancient Church Michael Philip Penn calls the “kiss of peace” “one of the most prevalent features of early Christianity.”[2]

In fact, intentional efforts at fostering peace in the body of Christ are evident in numerous ways in the history of the early church, be they symbolic or more literal. Kreider quotes the early Christian Clement in this regard:

Throughout his writings, Clement described these nonkilling, nonadulterous people as people of peace who are formed in catechesis. God has created humans to be peaceable: “man is an instrument made for peace.” But humans have been stunted by sin. The catechumenate is a time to “cut out sins like parasitic growths.” In the course of their catechesis, God’s people “are educated not for war but for peace.” Clement comments: “We do not train our women like Amazons to manliness in war; since we wish the men even to be peaceable.” In their catechesis Christians become “a peaceful people,” “soldiers of peace” in God’s “bloodless army” who wear “the armor of peace.” Marshaled by God in “the ranks of peace,” they “stand in array against the evil one.” The peaceableness of the Christians’ culture is expressed by telltale things, such as the signet rings Christians buy in the markets to authenticate documents. What images should there be on these rings? According to Clement, the rings may have an intaglio of “a fish or ship in full sail . . . or a ship’s anchor” but not of “a sword or bow, for we cultivate peace.”[3]

When I hear all of this I am left with an obvious question: if peacemaking and peacekeeping was such a fundamental value in the life of the beleaguered early church, why is it not so in our own day? If the early Christians fought so hard for peace, why do we simply assume that peace just happens, on its own, as it were?

No, peace does not just happen. Peace is cultivated and fostered and fought for in churches of peace. And this happens especially in times of conflict and community distress. This raises another interesting and important question: what exactly should the church do when conflict arises in her midst? What is our job, the job of the community of Christ, the wider church, when members in her midst begin to clash?

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Matthew 3:1-12

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Matthew 3

1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

My father once told me about something interesting that happened when he and my mother visited the city of Assisi in Italy. Their tour guide was a Franciscan, a monk in the order founded by St. Francis, Assisi’s most famous son. Their guide, he said, was wearing the Franciscan habit—a brown robe with a thrice-knotted rope belt—but it was, my father went on to explain, a very nice robe and rope! It looked to have been tailored and made of very nice fabric. In all, the guide looked clean and well-dressed in his seemingly not-inexpensive Franciscan habit.

My father said that at one point in the tour there came around the corner toward them another Franciscan brother. But this one looked different. His brown robe was old and frayed and threadbare. It had obviously not been tailored. The rope belt was dirty and frazzled. He looked, my father said, like something out of Francis’ own day, like he came from that first group of zealous men who took up with Francis of Assisi so very long ago. This less-refined monk did not have the amiable face of a tour-guide either. He looked stern and focused.

My dad said that as this other Franciscan passed them by he noticed the look that he gave their tour guide. He said it was a look of exasperation, of judgment. The haggard Franciscan, in that brief moment, communicated with his eyes that he did not care much for the tour guide Franciscan. My dad said it looked like a clash of different worlds in just that instant and he wondered what the two men thought of each other.

I thought of that while reading our text about John the Baptist. There was something old-school about John, something very different from the other religious leaders of the day. John was dressed haggard and odd. His diet was raw and made one flinch: locusts and honey! He wore a camel hair garment. And he looked askance at the comfortable clergy of the day, the leaders and rulers of the people in their nice robes with their cushy stations in life.

We are privileged in Matthew 3 to see what happened when John and these others crossed paths. Who was this odd man, John the Baptist? What exactly was this seemingly surly, cantankerous prophet up to? And why exactly was he so important? Why did Jesus call John the Baptist one of the greatest of all time?

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Conflict Resolution in the Shadow of the Cross (Part 6)

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Galatians 2

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

I once attended a church business meeting when I was a college student in which tempers flared over the question of whether or not to adopt the proposed budget. I remember being amazed and uncomfortable when an elderly man who was opposing the budget turned on the elderly lady who was sitting at the organ bench and berated her for a comment she had made.

In another and later instance, I presided over a business meeting in which one member turned on another church member and called him out for his bad attitude after the first had made a negative comment (one of many, as I recall).

Both of these were awkward moments. As I look back on them I felt, perhaps, that one of them was appropriate and one was inappropriate. But even as I ponder these situations I am uneasy. It raises an interesting and important question: does conflict resolution in the shadow of the cross ever call for public confrontation in the body of Christ?

Certainly we would want to say that public confrontation, ideally, should never happen and that if it happens it is usually wrong, given the carelessness with which human beings tend to handle such. Usually it is the case that public confrontation results from public outbursts of temper. But is that always the case and is it always wrong? After all of these careful considerations concerning conflict resolution we have looked at through this journey, we must now ask whether or not there is ever a time for public correction?

In Galatians 2, Paul recounts an instance in which he publicly rebuked Peter for something that Peter did. It is an astonishing passage! David Platt and Tony Merida call this text “one of the most dramatic and tense episodes in all of the New Testament.”[1] It is so surprising and uncomfortable that some interpreters over the years could not bring themselves to believe that it even really happened! “Some early church leaders (Origen, Chrysostom and Jerome) could not believe that this conflict really occurred,” writes G. Walter Hansen, “They explained that Paul and Peter must have staged the conflict to illustrate the issue at stake.”[2]

Well our text certainly does not sound like it was staged. We can almost certainly reject that notion outright. No, what Paul says happened actually happened. Paul publicly rebuked Peter. Why? And should this ever occur today?

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Matthew 2:13-23

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Matthew 2

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” 19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Matthew’s account of the holy family’s flight to Egypt is fascinating and theologically rich. David Platt writes that “when Jesus and His family flee to Egypt and then later return from Egypt, Matthew helps us see that Jesus inaugurates the new exodus.” This seems clear enough. Matthew, whose interactions with Old Testament texts and themes is so very powerful and thorough, is depicting Jesus as the new and greater Moses in this text. Platt then adds that “[t]he flight to Egypt for Jesus and His family was about much more than simply running away from Herod; this was about painting a picture…”[1]

I like that: it was “about painting a picture.” That is a helpful idea, and true! And what is the picture that is being painted? Again, is the picture of Christ as the new and greater Moses leading His people out of bondage. This is true, but what is really amazing is to see just how nuanced and detailed the picture that Matthew paints of this scene truly is! In this recasting of the Exodus in the person and work of Jesus, Matthew truly touches on the primary aspects of the great episode in Israel’s history. In doing so, he lifts it to new heights showing how it was but a foreshadowing of the person and work of Christ.

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Conflict Resolution in the Shadow of the Cross (Part 5)

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You will notice that we are not calling this series “Conflict Management in the Shadow of the Cross.” We are calling it “Conflict Resolution in the Shadow of the Cross.” The goal of Christians in conflict is to press toward resolution using all of the wisdom and guidance that God has offered us in His Word and under the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit. In the first part of our consideration of what to do when conflict comes we laid out three initial steps:

  1. Assess the conflict from the perspective (1) of heaven and (2) of the other person.
  2. Move quickly with forgiveness and/or an apology.
  3. Keep the circle of conflict as small as possible for as long as possible.

We now continue with steps 4, 5, 6, and 7. Each of these steps are rooted in scripture and each is geared toward resolution and the reestablishment of unity. What is more, each step must be taken in love and genuine concern for peace and the other’s well-being as opposed to taking them mechanistically or in a detached spirit of simply checking the boxes.

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Matthew 2:1-12

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Matthew 2

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

In his book Is the New Testament Reliable? Paul Barnett pointed out a very interesting possibility related to the star of Bethelehem. He writes:

Every 805 years the planets Jupiter and Saturn draw near to each other.  Astronomers have calculatedthat in 7 BC the two planets were conjoined three times – in May, September and December and that in February, 6 BC they were joined by Mars, presenting a spectacular triangular conjunction.  It appears likely that the magoi, knowing the ancient star prophecy, on seeing the brilliant planetary formation, decided to visit Judaea to see the new king of the world.  Incidentally, the Biblical record does not say there were three magoi.

            In 1871 the astronomer John Williams published his authoritative list of sightings of Comets. Comet number 52 on Williams’ list appeared for seventy days early in 5 BC and would have been visible in the Middle East.  Was this the “star” which guided the magoi?  Why did Herod kill the boys who were two years old and younger?  Could this figure be explained by the time in 7-6 BC when the conjunction of the stars appeared?

            Time Magazine, in its cover story of 27 December 1976, commented that while “there are those who dismiss the star as nothing more than a metaphor…others take the Christmas star more literally, and not without reason.  Astronomical records show that there were several significant celestial events around the time of Jesus’ birth.”[1]

I find things like this interesting, natural explanations for miracles. Seen from the human and scientific perspective, perhaps there is something to it. But, of course, if this is so, then astronomical history would only be confirming what scripture said happened, not getting behind the event to the why of it. For that, only scripture can help. And scripture does give us the why of the event of the star: it is bound up in God’s loving and gracious giving of the Son for salvation and life to a lost world. The star is a signpost, yes, pointing the magi to Christ. Yet, it is more than that. It is also a sign of coronation, for the baby that was born is a King, a King, in fact, above all other kings. We will let this understanding of Christ as King guide us in our approach to the amazing events of Matthew 2.

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Matthew 1:18-25

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Matthew 1

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Just when you thought you had heard it all, I offer you the following from                                          www.st-josephstatue.com:

St Joseph Statue

Saint Joseph has helped thousands of people to sell their homes and other real estate. The biggest part of this help is to give you faith in Saint Joseph and yourself; the belief that you now will sell your house with the help and blessing of Saint Joseph. So if you need help to sell your real estate or another house please read more on our Saint Joseph Statue homepage.

Sell My House

Do you have friends that are having trouble selling their real estate? Are you about to put your own house out in the home sales market? Have you tried everything but still haven´t sold your house? Are you in the real estate business and need an extra incentive for your customers?
– In all cases above you have come to the right place. The use of a St Joseph statue and the belief in St Joseph is a tradition known all over the world for helping you to sell your house in a smooth way. To bury a statue of Saint Joseph is both a wonderful tradition and a great gift to friends and customers.

The Home Seller Kit

There are some different home sales kit from which you may choose. It is not that important which one you prefer, the most important thing is that you have faith in yourself and in Saint Joseph. You can read more about how to use the home selling kit here.[1]

I actually first heard of this in Georgia a number of years ago when a lady mentioned it to me. She said that she had buried a statue of Joseph upside down in the yard and that her house sold not too long thereafter. She appeared to be a believer in this.

To put it mildly, I am not. But I am a fan of Joseph the earthly father of Jesus. Some call Joseph Jesus’ “foster father” or “step father.” All of these titles are efforts to recognize that God, of course, was truly Jesus’ father. But there was a man who loved Mary, the mother of Jesus, and this man played a very important role in the story of Jesus’ first advent. Even so, it seems like we never quite know what to do with Joseph. We either say a few polite words about him and move on, or we try to do strained detective work to figure out exactly what happened to him, or we ignore him outright, or, heaven forbid, we bury statues of poor Joseph upside down in our yards as some sort of real estate hocus pocus.

Yet, behind all of these approaches stands Joseph the man. All that really matters for us on this side of heaven is what we know of him from scripture. As it turns out, the portrait that scripture paints of Joseph is a beautiful portrait indeed.

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Conflict Resolution in the Shadow of the Cross (Part 4)

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Sometimes conflicts come upon us so stealthily that we seemingly wake to find ourselves in the midst of strife with another person. There are those who love conflict. That cannot be denied. Even so, I suspect that many are frustrated to find that despite their best efforts not to be involved in conflicts, they sometimes cannot avoid them. And I would say this is true: try as we might, we will at times find ourselves in conflicts. Of course, at other times, there really is no great mystery to it at all, is there? Sometimes we know perfectly well why we are in the midst of conflict and it is because we caused it! Sometimes—perhaps more rarely than we like to tell ourselves—we find ourselves in conflicts because there truly is a matter of righteousness and unrighteousness at stake. Sometimes issues are black and white.

What, then, do we do? How do we handle conflicts? While exceptional situations may call for unusual and varied responses, I believe that scripture gives us certain strong and guiding principles that, if adhered to, can greatly lesson the amount of conflicts in our lives.

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Matthew 1:1-17

 

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Matthew 1

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. 12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

James Montgomery Boice tells a fascinating story about a young man who came to know Jesus through reading and wrestling with the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke.

       Ron Blankley, a former area director of Campus Crusade for Christ, was walking through the student union of the University of Pennsylvania one day when he saw a student reading a Bible. He remembered Philip’s approach to the Ethiopian, so he walked over to the student, introduced himself, and asked, “Do you understand what you’re reading?”

       The student replied, “No, as a matter of fact, I don’t. I’m reading the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, and I don’t understand them because they seem to be different.” Blankley had been at Tenth Presbyterian Church the Sunday immediately before this when, curiously enough, I had explained the genealogies exactly as I have just done here. He explained them to this student, and as a result of that explanation, the young man came to faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior.[1]

This is a reminder that I and, perhaps, all of us need, for the genealogies of scripture can too easily become “fly-over country” for many modern readers. We assume, wrongly, that all of those strange names perhaps meant something to the original readers (if they meant anything even to them!) but they cannot mean much to us. When we hear a story like Boice’s above, however, we are reminded of the amazing fact that all scripture truly is God’s word and can therefore be used mightily of God for the salvation of sinners. We skip over or skim these sections to our own loss.

Let us, then, listen carefully to these words which, while strange sounding in many ways, are yet “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) and valuable! What does this geneaology tell us?

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Conflict Resolution in the Shadow of the Cross (Part 3)

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In 1633, George Herbert poetically bemoaned Church conflict and schisms. While older English like this can be a challenge, Herbert’s point is worth the effort it takes to read this.

Brave rose, (alas!) where art thou? in the chair

Where thou didst lately so triumph and shine,

A worm doth sit, whose many feet and hair

Are the more foul, the more thou wert divine.

This, this hath done it, this did bite the root

And bottome of the leaves: which when the winde

Did once perceive, it blew them under foot,

Where rude unhallow’d steps do crush and grinde

        Their beauteous glories. Onely shreds of thee,

        And those all bitten, in thy chair I see.

Why doth my Mother blush? is she the rose,

And shows it so? Indeed Christs precious bloud

Gave you a colour once; which when your foes

Thought to let out, the bleeding did you good,

And made you look much fresher then before.

But when debates and fretting jealousies

Did worm and work within you more and more,

Your colour faded, and calamities

        Turned your ruddie into pale and bleak:

        Your health and beautie both began to break.

Then did your sev’rall parts unloose and start:

Which when your neighbours saw, like a north-winde,

They rushed in, and cast them in the dirt

Where Pagans tread. O Mother deare and kinde,

Where shall I get me eyes enough to weep,

As many eyes as starres? since it is night,

And much of Asia and Europe fast asleep,

And ev’n all Africk; would at least I might

         With these two poore ones lick up all the dew,

         Which falls by night, and poure it out for you![1]

Herbert employs a number of startling and effective images in this poem. The most jarring, however, is that of the rose and the worm. The church is supposed to be a rose but it has become, Herbert argues, a worm. Why? Because of conflict. Because of “debates and fretting jealousies” that “did worm and work within you more and more.” As a result, the beauty of the church faded, the church was weakened, the church fractured, and the enemies of God “rushed in” to take advantage of the church’s splintered state. And what does this do to Herbert? It causes him to weep as if his very eyes had licked up the dew and “poure[d] it out for you.”

Man! What a poem! What an image! What a heartbreaking thought!

Yes, conflict, if not managed well, can wreak havoc in the church of the living God. It can decimate our health and our witness. Conflict carries within itself the potential for great degradation. For this reason, and for the honor and cause of Christ, the church must not allow conflict to tear her apart.

We now approach the practical steps of conflict resolution. This morning, I would like to give five warnings. The next couple of weeks I will give a number of positive steps. But first, let us consider our all-too-common reactions to conflicts and the ways that these reactions serve to exacerbate the problem. I would like to do this in this way: I would like to give you five steps to take if you want to make conflict worse and wreak ungodly havoc in the church. In other words, if you want to maximize conflict, increase disunity, and make yourself and everybody else around you utterly miserable, these are the steps you should take.

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