You can listen to the entire talk of the Rev. Sam D. Wells via the link in the previous post. It is highly recommended. A couple comments worth highlighting.
- Rev. Wells retold a classic Cold War joke about a train carrying the three major leaders of the Soviet Union. The train stops for unknown reason. Lenin goes to the engine car to "educate" the engineer into resuming the trip. Nothing happens. Stalin goes to the engine car and shoots the engineer. Nothing happens. Brezhnev pulls down all the shades and just pretends the train is moving.
- In these three responses we see an illustration for how the church responds to conflict: education, force and denial. We try to educate our way out of conflict and nothing happens. We try to coerce and conflict deepens. Many times we simply deny that conflict exists and it goes subterranean to cause even worse problems.
- We have in our minds that conflict is wasteful and that it interferes with the "real" work of the church. But what if conflict and reconciliation IS the work of the church? Our turning away from the conflicts within the life of the church is an effort to impose our agenda on God and hope that he goes along with us.
- We tend to operate with a false premise: that there is only two choices when we find ourself in conflict with other Christians. Either the person we are in conflict with is "incredibly stupid" or they are being unfaithful. If, then, we eliminate stupidity and only engage with the faithful we will never encounter conflict.
- We need to accept that the passion and resurrection of Christ is not a "stepping stone" to something else God is trying to do. The Incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus are not a "device" but something that was written into the DNA of creation to bring reconciliation between God and humanity. There is nothing "behind" the Cross; the Cross is "the thing" itself.