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Conflict: Fight or Flee, is there a third choice?

Is the glass half empty or half full? The pess...

Is the glass half empty or half full? The pessimist would pick half empty, while the optimist would choose half full. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional Thought of the day:
 
14  Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. 15  Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. 16  Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. 17  Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. 18  If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. 19  Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” 20  Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. 21  Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.  Romans 12:14-21 (MSG)

 

An optimist looks at a 20 oz beverage container holding 10 oz of fluid and calls it half full. A pessimist looks at the same container and calls it half empty. I walk over drain the mug of beer, ticking off the optimist and the pessimist simultaneously. It was a good beer, the container served its purpose, and I caused opposing sides of an argument to be united. (against me – but that is cool) That’s a very good day! – Rev. Dt Parker

 

I have been thinking about conflict for a few days, as its come up in ministry to others quite frequently recently. Some are dealing with it at work, others in their homes or extended families, and yeah, some are dealing with it at church.

Normally, people deal with it (and indeed in any stress) in one of two ways – they fight or they flea. Some situations may seem to call for us to flee – to wait unti we are stronger, or we have all our resources marshalled.  Others may call for us to fight.  There are all sorts of works that teach us wisdom of each – I tend to lean to the classics – Musashi’s Book of Five Rings and Sun Tzu’s Art of War were books given to me read in a leadership program I was once in.

But I have to wonder, is there another way.  Are we stuck in a binary choice, with no other option?

Can instead of engaging in war…can we try to engage to live in peace? Can we work with those we would rather fight or flee from – even if it means our being crucified?  Perhaps the answer is in remember we have been nailed to the cross already with Christ?  Therefore it is our old adam – our self before salvation – it c–n die and we can live humbly, serving those the world would tell us to knock out.  And if their antagonism does cause us harm, we can cope, because Christ coped and even chose to die, that those who crucified him would live.

This is a hard road – no matter if we stick with the normal binary choice – fight or flee, or if we realize the conflict isn’t about the ratio of liquid to container, but there is something deeper at stake… eternity.

What do you think?  Really want to know!

Stressed? Challenged? Attacked? Oppressed? Your reaction can be Fight or Flight…….or Trust and Testify

Stained glass window of the sacred Heart of Je...

Stained glass window of the sacred Heart of Jesus Christ in the former Mosque (Cathedral) of Cordoba, Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:

11  Boaz answered her: “I have had a complete account of what you have done for your mother-in-law after your husband’s death; you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know previously. 12  May the LORD reward what you have done! May you receive a full reward from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”   Ruth 2:11-12 (NAB) 

 5  You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 7  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 8  We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10  Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.  2 Corinthians 4:5-10 (NLT)

Last night, as I drifted off to sleep, my mind was working through all the issues of the week, and there were a number of serious ones.  Even two that sprang up a couple of hours before bed.   Some will be dealt with quickly, some are going to linger for months, and all of them have the potential to cause both anxiety and worse heartache.   I can often deal with the stress, and with others heartache, but when I encounter some things – and see the lack of grace, and concern for the people whom God has created, the heart ache is overwhelming.
Scientists from Biologist to Sociologists  talk about such times being the mechanism which fire off a “fight or flight” response.  That is, the trauma is such that we have an energy spike, and our reaction is to use that energy to run away and hide (the Elijah response – where is that cave again?) or fight (remember St. Peter in the garden with a sword?)  Things get tense – and we are informed it is “natural” to feel the pull to one response or the other.  Or sometimes we are paralyzed, as our minds can’t decide which to do – and the energy is release, and instead of one or the other…we simply get more anxious, more agitated.

Been there, done that, have the hole in the ground because my head was spinning so fast it turned my body into a drill bit.  Fight or Flee – I want to do both right now – and so I look like Shaggy on the old scoobydo cartoons – feeting moving faster then the eye can perceive – and going no where.

For those of us whom God has claimed in the waters of Baptism – there is actually another option.  It requires something more than fight or flight.

It takes remember that God is God.  That He is our refuge, our strength – as Martin Luther said – he is our Fortress.   (that hymn btw is not the anthem of a warrior, but the lament of those needing refuge and their joy in finding it in Christ)

The option is to trust.  To have confidence in all of God’s promises – not just about being our refuge, but indeed seeing how God will bless us even more.   Taking refuge as Ruth did, in God is about more than spending time in His sanctuary, it is realizing that He has made us His sanctuary.  To know that God has called us to these times and these places – to testify of His love, to reveal to people His will, that He doesn’t rejoice in the death of the wicked – that He desires to bring people to reconciliation and repentance, to have Him the trust in Him – even to the extent of what He teaches.

Trust and Testify.

To know He is God, to intimately, deeply, without reservation know it. To know He is our refuge, our sanctuary.  Our Hope, our love.

To testify to that – to show others how He has saved us from sin, how being in His presence, death is no longer something to be feared,   To realize we don’t have to reach out to  Him, but He has us in the firmly in His grasp.

Lord, help us to realize that when we cry out – Lord Have Mercy, it is for the same reason Luther said we pray “They will be done”.  Not because You will not, but that we would know You have.  AMEN.

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