I like words in general I guess. As a youngster, I spent a good deal of time perusing the dictionary. In fact I made it a practice, whenever I searched for the definition of one word in particular, I would read all the definitions on that page. Now that I use online resources, I miss doing that.
I like the word “conflicted.” It describes my feelings when I see and appreciate both sides of a complex issue and find myself hesitant to assert an opinion. A friend of mine pointed me to a recent article in the NY Times concerning “Three Clergymen, Three Faiths, One Friendship.” It sounds like the opening line of a joke—but it really serves as a good model for us all when it comes to conflict and diversity.
I’m conflicted, for example, about many issues politically—war/peace, taxes and health care reform (just to name a few), conflicted about some forms of corporate worship, conflicted about diet and exercise (but that’s another thing entirely!). On even days, I can argue “for,” on odd days “against” most any topic. I’m conflicted, you see! I imagine we all find ourselves conflicted at times about one thing or many.
I come from a Christian background where it seemed that one should never be or at least admit being conflicted on certain matters of doctrine or ethical persuasion or almost anything else for that matter. We were taught rather to “take a stand,” not to compromise. But sometimes that smells like arrogance and bull-headedness to me.
I am an older man now, and I often see many sides to once-simple questions. The things about which I am sure certainly have shrunk in number. “On Christ the solid rock I stand” is a line in an old hymn that I still love to sing. It speaks to me. All the rest? Well, I guess you could say that I am sometimes, but not always, conflicted.
When I am conflicted I become quieter, perhaps a bit more humbled. It means that I try to listen before I speak; consult before I act. Being conflicted means I pray and meditate more, search the Scriptures, read more broadly, and broaden my circle of friends and associates.
This past Sunday night in Cross Plains we gathered with neighbors from sister churches in our community for a Thanksgiving Service. We sat at table with one another and enjoyed good food and fellowship. We then worshiped the same Lord in a service of thanksgiving and praise. We came to the same Table and participated in Holy Communion. What made this night so special is that we gathered in one place from different churches, different backgrounds, and with different perspectives on many issues. But we gathered as one with grateful hearts. It was a good night. I am thankful!
I hope this spirit of fellowship will grow in our fair community. I personally would like to see all churches gather as neighbors with grateful hearts. That’s my prayer.