This week’s thought for the week, written by Grahame Lockhart, was prompted by a poster on a Church notice.
Disagreement is natural because we are different; conflict arises when one or both of us refuses to listen to the other in a spirit of openness.
Conflict can begin by simply ignoring the other person, escalate by putting them down, thinking I am better than them, and reaching the point where we seek to destroy all that that person is and believes, up to and including killing. So often the conflict is justified by believing God is on ‘my side’.
God doesn’t ‘do sides’. In conflict God is the first casualty. In conflict God is excluded.
Today we live in a world where God is more and more excluded. If we believe there is no God, or we believe God is on our side, conflict simmers under the surface of our disagreements.
Sadly, the current conflicts destroying the world highlight this simple fact. Those with whom we disagree, who are different from us and who don’t think the same as us, we see as, wrong, a threat, the enemy. And we use that as an excuse to persecute them.
Conflict infects disagreements when God is excluded. Like a poison it spreads and contaminates others until groups are in conflict with other groups, communities with communities and nations with nations. If God was involved in resolving our disagreements conflict could not and would not flourish.
God is. In coming to know God there is no reason or excuse to think or believe that I am better than anyone, or that my way is right. We are all different, but the joy is sharing together in this rich diversity in God’s spirit of openness, finding peace together.
In Brechin it is unlikely we can influence for good the tragic conflicts destroying this beautiful world at present. What we can do is hold up to God all affected, and pray that those who have influence seek God’s guidance in resolving these tragic situations.
Is there conflict in Brechin? There will be disagreement, but is there conflict? Are there people with whom we don’t just disagree but we see them as wrong, a threat, the enemy, and whilst we wouldn’t go as far as killing them, we ignore them, put them down, gossip about them, ostracise them, think we are better than them, and even think God is on our side?
To know God is to know peace within ourselves. To know God is to seek that peace for others, especially those we find it difficult to like, and with whom we would find it very easy to be in conflict.
The Church is one place in which God can come to be known. Sadly, some people are put off the institutional Church, but the churches in Brechin can be the place to come to know God.
It would be wonderful if the seeds of peace, God’s peace, could be sown in Brechin and taken by Brechiners into the wider world, bringing hope to others whereas at present there is no hope.
In God there is no conflict; with God there is peace.