Sunday Thoughts

by

by Al Sturgeon
(published every Sunday in “Desperate Houseflies”)

I RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE

“Funny thing happened the other day. I went to a fight, and a church service broke out.” (Note: In the absence of the professional sport, all hockey jokes are free for public usage without the express written consent of the National Hockey League.)

It is sad to note that a church fight is not an oxymoron, but it’s even sadder to live expecting otherwise. You know the truth: where two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus, expect a disagreement.

Now one popular solution to this persistent problem has become a part of our vocabulary: Think win/win. Many of our local casino patrons have adopted that optimistic outlook, too, with about as many positive outcomes as in churches. I mean no disrespect here. The win/win concept has some merit, and I’m all for the attempt, but the truth is that there will simply be times when two people, groups, or whatevers will argue and debate and plead and kick and scream and end up with two opposing ideas. Here’s the kicker: even two sides of honest, well-intentioned people.

Take Paul and his opposition for example. No, not the “let’s kill him” opposition; instead, that group of Paul-lovers who disagreed with his travel itinerary. At the Caesarean exit on the way to Jerusalem, it seems that Luke and Philip and Agabus and a whole bunch of others begged and pleaded with Paul to not do what he had his mind set on doing. Oddly enough, they did this according to Luke “through the Spirit,” and yet Paul wouldn’t listen. Paul, led by this same Spirit, told them he would not acquiesce to their wishes.

So they punched him in the face.

Well, no. Instead, they came to end of this major disagreement and, according to Luke (who was there), said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Now that’s a novel idea.

Maybe not so novel. It seems that I remember another similar disagreement within a Deity. I remember Jesus among the olive trees informing Father God that he had changed his mind. He made it quite clear that his request was for Plan B – to create Plan B at least. When it came down to it, they couldn’t reach an agreement. Except, that is, for God’s will to be done.

Rodney King misstated the question. No, we can’t all just get along. Maybe, however, we could find something else to agree on instead when we can’t reach an agreement with an opposing side: Maybe that could be God’s will?

One of the more silly misuses of Scripture comes from Matthew 18 when Jesus says, “where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” I’ve always heard (and I bet you did, too) that this means that we can worship God if there are two or three people together (for God is there); the ridiculous implication being that God wouldn’t be there if we were by ourselves. No, Matthew 18 is a sermon on learning to get along. Instead of quantifying the number necessary to worship, Jesus is saying that when two or three sides learn to get along, count him in, too.

I don’t expect disagreements to disappear. Instead, I like the idea of respectful disagreements. And by that, I don’t go so far as to expect respect for the opposing side every time (that just may not happen). Instead, I’m an advocate of trying to have some respect for the will of God.

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4 Responses to “Sunday Thoughts”

  1. Terry Austin Says:

    The only catch to this brilliant plan, Al, is that you are assuming that most church people are willing to let God’s will actually be done.

    Especially if God’s will happens to involve something we’ve never done — or at least never done that way — before.

  2. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Ah, but you didn’t read last week’s column closely enough. I didn’t mean to write to “church people” who aren’t Christian – but to people interested in learning to imitate Jesus…
    🙂

  3. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Oh, then you’re not really talking about churches at all.

  4. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Not specifically in this article.

    It does happen to address, I believe, a significant group of the people in the one I attend, however.

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