When We Don't Like The Paint Scheme

May 7, 2016
by John Faris

James 3:17-18 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (ESV)

Having been involved in a church committee debate over the colour of paint, I was struck (and maybe stung) by Nan St. Louis' recent devotional, "Where are you?" which mentioned the negative effect on others of Christians who disagree over such things.

I completely agree with her desire for vibrant, caring, joyful churches which rise above petty squabbles. But I was struck recently by a comment that whereas conflict is inevitable in the church, God's challenge is to do conflict well. The issue is not that we quarrel over the colour of paint (or the music or whatever) but how we handle and resolve that conflict.

So often, our instinct is to run and hide from a conflict, and all the more because we hope that the church is the place of peace in an unpeaceful world. The important thing to remember is that disagreeing is not necessarily the same as disparaging or disrespecting. There is a way for Christians to disagree agreeably, to face into a conflict and work through it to a resolution — and very often a stronger relationship with those with whom we disagree.

A moving example is the recent "Larnaca Statement" by Israeli and Palestinian Christians. They don't agree on many deep differences, but they are trying to do conflict well.

Have a look at some of these passages:

Matthew 18:15-18 – Jesus laid out a step-by-step process for handling a difficulty between two Christians.

Acts 18:24-26 – Priscilla and Aquila brought Apollos into their home and explained the way of God more accurately.

Galatians 5:25-6:1 – The outworking of the fruit of the Spirit may gently and humbly restore an offender.

2 Timothy 2:22-26 – A kind, non-quarrelling approach may well bring someone to a knowledge of the truth.

2 John 1:12 and 3 John 1:13-14 – John was reluctant to write certain things down, not, I think, because he was running out of paper but because the things that he wanted to say were better said face-to-face than on paper. If he were writing today, he would have included social media.

As Nan remarked to me in our (cordial) e-mail discussion, "Do we love each other enough to push through to lovingly disagree? … May we care enough to talk face to face."

Prayer: God of peace, may we never fall into the trap of healing wounds lightly, crying "peace, peace" where there is no peace. Help us to handle conflict well with gentleness and respect, that there may be ultimately "sweet agreement at the meeting of our eyes" (cf. Graham Kendrick's song "Jesus stand among us"). May the main things (that grace and truth came through Jesus Christ) be the main things in our basic unity in the body of Christ. Teach us to be gracious and how to put up with it when the colour scheme or the hymns annoy us. Amen.

About the author:

John Faris <farisjohn@gmail.com>
Cork, Ireland

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for sharing John. God bless.


    Thanks John, may we constantly keep a loving perspective when faced with disagreements. Good reminder. Blessings.


    John, thank you for your thought provoking devotional. I had not thought of conflict and conflict resolution like this before. Blessings.


    Well said. Sometimes the things we don’t like can become what we do like if we just accept for awhile too.
    (B.C. Canada)


    Thank you for today’s devotional. The Lord answered some of my questions about how to approach someone in disagreement. Prayerfully will help in some family issues. God bless.


    I feel a lot of these minor (petty?) differnces would not even materialize if we focused on what really mattered and spent that fussing time in prayer for the salvation of new people who come to our church and have never heard the message of salvation.


    Dear Mr. Faris,
    Thank you for a thought provoking devotional.
    Pastor Lance Morgan once said, “God commanded us to meet together so that we could learn to get along.”
    Blessings.


    Dear John,
    Greetings from Canada!
    Thank you so much for today’s devotional, a reminder of how important it is to be respectful. It is indeed a constant reminder of how we need to always remain humble through the grace and love through our Lord, to be kind and loving to each other under all circumstances.
    Your contribution to Daily devotions are always so reassuring.
    May the dear Lord continue to bless you richly.


    Thank you for today’s devotional John. So often churches do get into conflict over minor things, but there are also some very serious issues on the table of mainline churches in Canada and internationally. Issues if when resolved incorrectly, may have long lasting detrimental effect on the church. In Acts 15 Paul and Barnabas experience this in Antioch, but with guidance from the Holy Spirit and a determination to stand up for the “right thing” they are able to set the church on the right path. Conflict is a constant wherever people work together, thanks for pointing it out as a warning for Christians.
    Blessings.


    John: The subject you chose for this morning’s Devotional ought to be read by many people around this world. You may recall the serious problem Canada had years ago with our mainly French-speaking Province of Quebec and the violence in Ulster (Northern Ireland) as I recall one photo of a woman sitting on a chair in the street waiting for medical attention for wounds to her legs due to both feet that had been blown off.
    I can add nothing in addition, except to thank you for reminding us there is a better way found within many portions of Holy Scripture to handle disagreeable situations. How true that is.
    Thank you very much, John, for today’s advise and may our God continue to bless you.


    Dear John Faris,
    Thank you for a very needed devotional.
    I appreciate your approach and relevant choices of scripture portions.
    Keep writing.


    Hello John – I just read your devotional on Presbycan . I enjoyed reading your thoughts on how we should deal with conflict in our churches. It has always amazed me how the members of my church have become angry and upset over such trivial issues. If people can’t handle such a small “change” how will they ever deal with a major “change”? We had a situation but, fortunately, a professional counsellor lead our members through a course on “conflict resolution“ and this really helped everyone to understand how to deal with conflict in a “healthy” way. The scripture passages you included really do show us how we should handle disagreements.


    I want to thank you, John, for these thoughts on disagreeing well. I have a situation within my own family which we are addressing face to face. I was especially drawn to the phrase in your prayer, “Let us not fall into the trap of healing wounds lightly”. The wounds are often deep and we should respect that with serious consideration and discussion.
    May God bless you over there in Cork. It’s nice to hear from your beautiful island.

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