Core Value 4:Community Life in the church family is so honored that division and gossip are confronted quickly and clearly, and resolved in accordance with Biblical principles of fellowship and conflict resolution.
I’m not a heart surgeon. But I’ve watched them on TV. And I’ve sometimes wondered what it is that gives good and sane people committed to healing—what gives them the ability to walk into a room, take a knife and cut through the layers of skin and muscle, open the rib cage, and operate on a living person’s heart.
Seems like heart surgeons would have to have confidence in these two things:
- The surgery is necessary for the health of the patient.
- They (the surgeons) have the tools and training needed to effectively perform the surgery.
I’m not a heart surgeon. Nor am I, at this point, a heart patient. But, again, I’ve watched them on TV. Known a few in real life, even. And I’ve sometimes wondered what it is that gives good and sane people committed to living—what gives them the ability to let themselves be rolled into a room where they’ll be rendered unconscious, cut open, and operated upon.
Seems like heart patients would have to have confidence in these two things:
- The surgery is necessary for their health.
- The surgeon performing the operation is skilled and trustworthy.
I’m neither a heart surgeon nor a patient. But I’ve watched and been involved in a myriad of conflicts over the years. And a lot of times, when people sense an impending conflict, they respond as if heart surgery were looming on the horizon—which, metaphorically speaking, may be a pretty accurate picture.
Problem is, when it comes to sins like division and gossip in the church, few of us relish the idea of performing the surgery necessary to purge the disease from our midst. Fewer still relish the idea of having the surgery performed onus. What, after all, would cause sane believers committed to living at peace with one another—what would cause them to walk into the operating room of conflict? What would give one believer the audacity to perform spiritual surgery on another? What would give a believer the audacity to bare her heart to a believing friend so that she could get rid of a troublesome and cancerous sin?
What indeed? So we sweep the conflict under the carpet, gossip behind others’ backs, grumble under our breaths—do whatever we can to ignore the two-ton elephant in the middle of the room. But the elephant—the disease—only grows, feeding on our denial of its existence. And after a surprisingly short amount of time, what could have been scheduled—and relatively minor—surgery becomes major emergency surgery.
Here’s the deal: when it comes to division, gossip, and conflict in the church, chances are we’ll end up playing the part of both patient and surgeon at various points. Sometimes, we’ll be the ones to spot the disease: we’ll have to share the diagnosis with truth and compassion and then operate with precision and the ruthless persistence that drives the surgeon to “get all of it.” Sometimes, we’ll be the one with the disease—and we’ll have to submit to the surgical hand of a fellow believer.
Either way, if we’re going to enter the operating room of conflict well, we need to have confidence in these things:
- The surgery is necessary for the health of the church. (It is—notice how seriously the apostle Paul takes the problems of gossip and division in the church in Romans 16:17, Titus 3:10-11, and 2Corinthians 12:20.)
- We have the tools and teaching necessary to effectively perform the surgery. (We do—see the conflict strategies Jesus outlines in Matthew18:15-17 and Matthew 5:23.)
- We can trust each other with our hearts. (We can, when we act in love—see Ephesians 4:15.)
No, spiritual surgery isn’t fun. But it is necessary. At CVC, we’re striving to create a safe operating room. Where we train people to utilize the Bible’s principles for resolving conflict. Where “wounds from a friend can be trusted” (Proverbs 27:6, NIV)