What is the best way to deal with “issues?” I have seen so many different methods . . .
- self-righteous indignation
- create another “story”
- smooth it over
- talk it away
Does it matter where the issue arises? I can tell you that when my children had a different opinion than mine [translate: a hissy fit] in the grocery store, I had a different way of dealing with it than when it happened, say, at home.
When it happened in the grocery store [because, I assure you, it DID], I would calmly repeat, ”No, we are not going to buy that expensive name-brand 98% sugar cereal in the very small box for you and your 4 siblings.” I learned very early on, also, that explaining the WHY’s of my decision were rarely helpful. They simply did not care WHY I was saying “No.” They simply wanted me to say “Yes.” And when the helpful repetition of my decision failed to calm the troubled waters, I paid for my groceries and left as quickly as possible. Except for the times when I left my groceries in the aisle and apologized profusely to anybody within hearing.
But when this same type of issue arose at home, I had better options. I did not have an audience, for one thing, and that meant I could eliminate THEIR audience. So, the conversation went more like this: We are not discussing this. If you would like to hold your breath and kick on the floor, please do it in the other room. As they could seldom hear me at this point, I would calmly leave the room.
Now, was the conflict resolved? Kind of. The situation burned itself out for lack of oxygen, but the underlying issue was still there: carnal desire. I want MY way and you better agree to it, or there will be a big problem!
This morning we are going to be thinking about a difference of opinion more damaging than my children wanting their own way—they have grown into reasonable adults now (thank goodness!), but I am sure that many of us can name specific situations close to home that have left a lasting bad feeling—especially when it happened within a church.
My father-in-law was a wonderful man—a great preacher and a good pastor, and he was the pastor of the ******* CoN in the 70’s. A lovely church full of nice people. But someone in that church got sideways with my father-in-law over the behavior of my sister-in-law. She was a young teenager at the time, and she acted as such.
At that time in our denomination, pastors had to go through congregational elections every 4 years. I am glad that process has been “refined.” And the unimaginable happened—Steve’s folks were voted out by 2/3 of a vote. Because a man got into a power struggle with my father-in-law and chose to undermine his authority. It still hurts. Cecil Burns was an intelligent man of high integrity, and they suffered for years as a result of that injustice.
2 weeks ago, we met up with the Apostle Paul as he was writing a love letter to his congregation in Philippi. This church that he and his fellow missionaries had begun on the banks of a river and then had continued to grow in the home of Lydia. In chapter 4, where we find ourselves this morning, something dreadful is going on and Paul has heard about it all the way in Rome, where he is under house arrest awaiting his trial. That’s hundreds of miles away in an era when the only social media was going to the marketplace and gossiping in person.
2 women in the church are having a problem, and no one knows what it was. I think that’s a good thing, as we can insert ourselves into this situation quite easily. In our passage, Paul urges them to put their feud to rest and then writes one of the most beautiful, most helpful passages in our Holy Scripture.
Originally preached Sunday, October 15, 2017