Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                          October 6, 2008
Prayer, Worship, and a Good Fight
My Reflections
Day of Atonement 2008
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Rainbow over my backyard during Rosh Hashanah celebration
Eating and fun during Rosh Hashanah celebration

There used to be a time when I hated conflict. The story always seemed to be the same: I'd do something to offend someone, they'd express their displeasure in some way (usually passive aggressive), then I'd do whatever I could to patch things up. If I didn't do an adequate job patching, either one of two things would happen: they'd leave (the church, the relationship, whatever) or we'd talk it out and move on.
I didn't really like those days, when I "hated" conflict. Sometimes things got so bad I'd ask God to move me, to another ministry, another state. God, just stop the pain. Today, I have a different view. Let me share it with you.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: Conflict in the church
Prayer, Worship, and a Good Fight 
Excerpt from The Church Comes Home by Robert & Julia Banks
Helpful note: This particular excerpt is part of a longer story. At this particular gathering, the children go to bed while the adults continue in fellowship.
The little ones went to bed while the dishes were done, and we settled down over cups of coffee to make some practical decisions for the next few weeks. After we planned a picnic, I suggested a change to one of our usual ways of doings things. Before we realized what was happening, we were in the midst of the most heated debate we'd ever had. Debate - it was more like a fight! How on earth could we have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous in so short a space of time? We were all very sobered by the affair and, as tempers cooled, began to apologize to God and to each other. Some of the tension still remains, however, and we're all likely to feel rather vulnerable for a while. None of us seems to find it easy to cope with conflict (1998:18).
My Reflections
Although I don't like conflict any more than the next guy, I must admit I've become somewhat comfortable with the idea. Here's why.
First, I've come to the realization that conflict is part of life. Here's a truthful statement: even if God were to answer my move-me-out-of-state prayer, conflict awaits me there, too.
Second, deeper relationships are often formed in the midst of strife, provided those involved stay put. Sadly, in our consumer society, if we don't like what we're experiencing, we vote with our feet: that is, we cut ties. Amazingly, most in the States wouldn't think of severing ties with their children, parents, or siblings, but when it comes to church family and spouses, all bets are off. "Divorce" has ravaged both marriages and church families. It ought not be.
Third, conflict is one of the surest signs of a developing relationship. Just think for a moment...we all disagree about some thing: it's inevitable. In developing relationships, it gets worked out, often by way of a tension-filled conversation. In stagnant relationships, it sits, festers. In these types of relationships, generally one of the two parties goes looking for greener pastures (which does exist, for a short time...then the cycle starts anew).
My challenge to the Church of Jesus Christ? Stay put. Work it out. Grow through the pain. It's all part of pressing into the way of Jesus. "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (Jn 13:35).
Day of Atonement 2008
Yom Kippur
Just a quick reminder that Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement, starts at sundown on October 8. Here are a few quick facts:
  •  Yom Kippur is a day of fasting. No work is done on this day, including at home. Many spend the day at "synagogue" (often "house" synagogues...like in Acts) praying for forgiveness of their sins.
  • The Holy of Holies, in the Temple, was separated from the congregation by a veil from floor to ceiling. It was used once a year on Yom Kippur, when the High Priest offered the blood sacrifice of atonement of behalf of the people. When Jesus died on the cross, the thick veil was ripped from top to bottom (Lk 23:44-46).
  • Christ came as high priest and entered the Holy of Holies (heaven itself) once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption (Heb 9:11-28). Believers in Jesus accept his sacrifice on the cross as the final atonement for sin, "being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rms 3:21-25). When Messiah returns, Israel will look on him, whom their pierced, and repent (Zech 12:10). On this day of repentance, Israel will be forgiven and permanently restored (Isaiah 66:7-14; Rms 11:26).

Another helpful note: Why do I share this stuff? In short, my goal is to bring about awareness. Too often, given the various forms of pick-and-choose Christianity, we have a tendency to think some parts of the Old Testament (Torah) are useful while others are not. For example, whereas most recognize the wisdom in the Ten Commandments, many feel the Feast days (i.e., God's appointed times) are something relegated to the past...or for the Jews. I'll write more on this later. For now, awareness will have to do. And yes, for the curious, I have taken into account proof texts like Mt 5:17 and Heb 8:13.

Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table