Daily Devotion for February 9, 2021

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

The United Methodist Church is at war, with the world and it seems alarmingly with itself.  As I ponder conflicts in the church, I tried to recall how did they begin?

I recall Bishop Rader admonishing us at Annual Conference one year to “Stop arguing about the American Flag in the sanctuary!” I have seen conflict between those who love and do not love the pastor.  There have been worship wars – do we sing the old hymns that reflect our theology and soothe our souls or the songs that appeal to the people whom to date we have failed to attract?  Do we make room for the millennial ideas or honor those who have faithfully served for decades and built their identity around their role in church leadership? Is it safe to open our building?  Is the risk of isolation greater than the risk of contracting an occasionally deadly but often debilitating virus? Is church really different than anyplace else?  Aren’t we Christians a bunch hypocrites? Can’t we at least have peace at church?

If you think back, church conflict is not new.  St. Paul wrote many letters to the early church many of them about church drama in the early church. IF you have studied ecclesiology (study of church structure) you see how much is replicates biology, most particularly cell division). The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her lord, but its leaders are humans, flawed and prone to sinning.

Early in my ministry, I had the opportunity to serve JustPeace, which taught Conflict Transformation within the UMC. Part of our work was helping people to recognize that conflict is part of God’s created order.  Because there is difference in the world, there is conflict.

When we come to accept conflict as part the world, rather than avoiding it, we can develop tools to engage it in ways that can bring us to deeper understanding of one another, which will bring us closer to God. The church should be among other things, a learning lab where we engage conflict well and not just another war zone of a conflicted world.  Yes, we should be able to feel the love of God within the walls of the church. But it is naive to think that conflict does not exit within the walls of the church.  The peace Jesus offers us in not a lack of conflict but a guide and confidence to move through whatever the world presents with a heart bearing the Gospel message.

Please pray with me.
Loving God fill my heart and soul with the love and wisdom of the Prince of Peace that I may seek and share Christ’s love in the midst of any conflict I face today.  Amen.