Church conflict is nothing new.
Sometimes people think there should be no conflict in church, as though by virtue of being Christians we can and should cover over all disagreements with niceness.
Jesus in his teaching in our gospel lesson today seems to proceed on the baseline assumption that conflict in Christian community is normal and natural, and should be dealt with honestly and with compassion.
As we all know, honesty and compassion are all too rarely the watchwords of our church conflicts.
Many times anger, hurt feelings, and lack of clear communication drive us toward either sweeping everything under the rug to keep the peace, or openly hostile entrenched positions that lead to explosions and people leaving the church permanently.
The result is either a Body of Christ pristine on the outside but riddled with the disease and rot of resentment on the inside, or an openly dismembered and bleeding Body of Christ hemorrhaging members and vitality.
There must be another way. Continue reading