Conflict Resolution, Church Style.
Fight Erupts at Jerusalem Church (BBC)
Israeli police had to break up a fist fight that erupted between Greek and Armenian Orthodox clergymen at one of Christianity's holiest sites. The scuffles broke out at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Orthodox Palm Sunday. Brawls are not uncommon at the church, which is uneasily shared by various Christian denominations. In this case, witnesses say an Armenian priest forcibly ejected a Greek priest from an area near the tomb of Jesus. They say the attacker felt the Greek priest had spent too long at the tomb. When police arrived to break up the fight, some were reportedly beaten back by worshippers using palm fronds.
Isn't this an interesting commentary on the state of the church? Clergy men, "men of the cloth" come to blows over the right to "honor" a holy site. Unfortunately, for any of us who have any extensive experience in the church this does not come as any great surprise. The commonality of churches de-evolving into conflict over the silliest of things has gotten to the point where it is no longer surprising but almost expected. From arguing over music that is meant to worship God and not entertain us, to fighting over the methods the youth group uses to reach hurting kids, to dividing over the color of the grout in the foyer of the church's new addition, it appears certain the focus of the modern church has moved from glorifying God to serving MY wants. I think there are a lot reasons we can explore for this phenomenon: a clergy that has chosen to tailor the focus of the church on the ever increasing consumerism mentality of our culture, church leadership more focused on the tenants and icons of their religiosity then on the "pure religion" James calls us to in James chapter 1, the abandonment of teaching the principle of the cross that calls men to humility and sacrifice for the cause of the church, laity that is less interested in loving others than they are on serving themselves, a Christian community that really is not very Christ-ian. The antidote for all of these is found in the approach the disciples employed in Acts 6: We must stay focused on the principles and callings of the church.
When the disciples came to a crossroads that threatened the unity of the church they re-focused themselves on the reason the church exists to begin with: to express the Gospel in word and deed. They did not compromise, they did not appease, they returned to mission and values of the cross and moved the church forward and not backward. Every time the unity of the church is threatened it can be traced back to an abandonment of the of the central values of the Church and an embracing of the selfish mindset of the world. The church does not exist for it's own comfort and prosperity but for the glorification of Christ. Nothing undermines that more then a church divided by selfish infighting.