Thursday, December 30, 2010
Top Ten Causes of Conflict
Starting on December 16 I wrote several posts about church conflicts and asked folks to comment on it by adding their own insights. I received a few comments, which I love because we who blog can get pretty lonely if we don't hear from you. One person remembered a fist fight among the members one Sunday morning and others had similar stories of deep conflict that caused trauma to them and their family members.
I have been pondering the question of why so much conflict in church groups and have some ideas. However, I am still interested in your insights. Let me begin by quoting a man well acquainted with church conflicts, St. James, the Brother of our Lord who lays out the number I. reason for Fights among Believers:
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you?
Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
2 You desire (Lust-A strong desire and longing) but do not have, so you kill.
You covet (Envy and Jealousy that others have what you desire) but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.
You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives,(Desire bad ends) that you may spend what you get on your (evil)pleasures.
One Bible scholar indicates that lust is like a disease in the heart or a hole in the soul that cannot be healed or filled with human activities."So" James says, "you all are lusting strongly after things you cannot have so you attack others who do have it."
Similarly, James indicates that we covet what others have so strongly that you try to get it through wrong means. I have come to see COVETING as the core problem in life for all Christians. St. Paul mentioned it as the sin that was so powerful that he would not have known it was wrong if the Commandments had not said it was.
In America, Covetousness is seen as a good thing. As a Capitalist nations we need people to covet what they do not have so they will buy more things. Without coveting, marketing would be useless. However, let me add that even in Communist nations like Russia, China and Romania. In fact the top leaders were and are more covetous than most and attempted to control others so they had more power.
The more we covet, the more we fight. Seminaries teach their students to Covet bigger churches and to abandon a little church to go to a bigger one. We covet our neighbor's church members, his budget, his tithers and his supportive family. No wonder there are so many depressed, angry, uptight preachers and unhappy board members who Lust to have more members.
No wonder we have such anger in church meetings that end up in personal attacks, name calling and emotional outbursts. If St. Paul couldn't quit coveting, how can we? What are we to do about it? How did James suggest we overcome this deeply, inbred sinful nature? Seek God. God alone can heal us. Not God's good gifts but God's presence in and with us.
So, I nominate this as the number I. Reason for Church Conflicts. Next, Number II.