Sent From Coventry

This week Phil Stone Director of the Scargill Movement discusses conflict.

Last week I was down at Coventry Cathedral attending a conference entitled Faith in Conflict. It was full of quite important influential people, I had to behave like a grown up! One of the things that we discovered (which isn’t rocket science) is that conflict is normal. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief and I know that from my experience here at Scargill we have had to work through quite a bit of conflict over the last few years. Just because we are followers of Jesus doesn’t mean we are going to get on all the time.

What is really important is how we deal with conflict. Often we are either confrontational and shout with a ‘come on if you think you’re hard enough’ attitude or the other equally unhelpful attitude is to go into silence and avoid confrontation at all costs. But what we are encouraged to do and the way forward – is to speak and to listen. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow says, “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”

Of course living in community this is essential if we are going to grow and become a place of reconciliation. The quality of our relationships is an authentic witness of God’s love. This is the heart of the Gospel. In fact one of the speakers at conference said that reconciliation is not the warm up act to hearing the Gospel – it is the Gospel.

Whenever we are reach out (and I’m not talking about with a fist!) to somebody we are in conflict with we are doing the Gospel. St Paul reminds us in 2nd Corinthians 5 that Jesus has reconciled us with God, our relationship with Him has been put right. We are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation.

It’s not an optional extra.

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