Thursday, September 07, 2006

Community and Conflict


At the moment at church we are talking about what it really means to be in community with each other. For a community to be healthy there needs to be a level of conflict. The presence of conflict in any relationship isn't bad, it's how we respond to it that has the potential for harm.

When I am doing pre-marital counseling with a couple, I become more concerned about couples who 'don't fight' than those that do. In any relationship there is going to be difference which will inevitably will lead to conflict. If there is no conflict my assumption isn't, what lovely polite people, it's what aren't they sharing and are letting fester under the surface until it explodes or eats them alive.

Now if this is the case with 2 people who are getting married, how much more would you expect it to apply to a community or 30 or more families. And yet we don't address it, we don't adopt healthy models of management, resolution, or restoration. We just stick our heads further in the sand expecting it to go away. Do you know what happens when you stick your head in the sand? You expose the most vunerable part of you to get kicked!

In order for there to be healthy community there needs to be ways of having healthy conflict. Healthy ways of addressing differences, concerns, issues, problems before they become an explosion which can have much more devastating effects.

We need to be able to give each other permission to raise issues with us. We also need to be honest with ourselves, act appropriately and maybe even ask forgiveness once in a while. What a radical concept for a community of Christians.

We are taught about humility, forgiveness, love, honesty, justice, grace and respect, among other things as followers of Jesus. Why do we often find it hard to express these things in our own faith communities? If we can't do it there, what hope do we have being that way with the rest of the world?



1 comment:

Mrs. M said...

I can really appreciate this. It's amazing how much avoidance there often is within faith communities. I respect your striving for openness.