Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday morning musings

If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

This line from Galatians 5 jumped out at me this morning as I listened to the lessons being read.  Biting and devouring isn't usual Sunday fare, thanks be to God, but I wonder if it was usual Sunday - and maybe even daily - fare for the new Christians in Galatia.  It's such colorful language for sniping and fighting!

I suspect I bite and devour sometimes even though I feel like I bend over backwards doing just the opposite.  When others begin to do so, I try to ease the tensions or simply walk away rather than get involved. 

But there are times when we have to stay and fight.  It seems to me the various parts of the Anglican Communion have been biting and devouring lately - or should I say once again or still.  A part of me wants to jump into the fray and do a little biting myself.  Part of me wants to walk very far away, even out of the relationship.  But that feels like I am letting the biting and devouring consume me.

If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Take care that you are not consumed by one another, says Paul.  It sounds to me like we have permission to disagree even to the point of taking chunks out of each other but that we are never to go for the knockout punch.  Hmmm....  I would love to know what Paul was talking about, wouldn't you?  Is he saying, "If you are going to argue, don't walk away mad" or "If you are going to fight, don't draw blood?"  It's hard to know, isn't it.

But it refreshing to see that Paul doesn't seem to be saying that we should make nice just for the sake of keeping the peace.  We shouldn't paste that plastic smile on our faces and pretend everything is fine.  Somehow we are meant to engage each other about our differences.  It ought to be a loving disagreement with each of us listening to the other and thinking about how best to respond without saying "well, that's just stupid," no matter how obliquely we try to do that.

So I guess biting and devouring are not generally appropriate behavior amongst the greater family but Paul is realistic enough to know we will still try it on once in a while.  'When you do," he seems to be saying, "take care not to cause the other  - and hence, ourselves - irreparable damage.  Always leave the discussion with the door still open and all the bodies intact.

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