Friday, April 27, 2007


“There are many parts, but one body. Every individual part is valuable and necessary.” (Very brief summary of I Corinthians 12:20 and following).

The perspectives of each one are important to understand the entire picture on any issue we address. If the little toe were cut off, it would die, but the entire body would suffer loss of blood, pain, imbalance, and difficulty walking. If you think the little toe on the body isn’t very important you would not mind cutting yours off to make your point.

“What causes conflict, quarreling and arguing in the body of Christ? It happens when people in the church have the wrong goals. When they are chasing all the wrong things, for all the wrong reasons, they end up fighting over meaningless stuff and it escalates to violence.” (James 4:1 and following, paraphrased)

When we have different perspectives…For example, if I think we need more room to grow numerically while you think we need to grow numerically before we worry about needing more room… that does not inevitably lead to any conflict. Different perspectives are a normal treasure-filled resource for the body. Different goals on the other hand, will inevitably lead to conflict. James, the brother of Jesus, says that we get angry when we can’t obtain the things we want… our goals (James 4). When our goals are blocked we react with anger. In our anger, we act aggressive, hostile, pushy and caustic or we become silent, withdrawn, passive, and helpless. Please note that both patterns of behavior are rooted in anger.

It’s easy to see the aggressive, hostile and pushy acts as hostile. But we tend not to think of silent withdrawal as anger. But, silence and passive withdrawal can be just as much an act of anger as screaming and yelling. What makes silence a hostile, angry act is the principle of “the little toe.”

“I am angry with you, so I will punish you and get even with you by denying you any real access to my heart and soul. That will show you. That will leave you just as lonely and isolated as you deserve to be.”

I remember once on a grade school playground, one little girl had her feelings hurt. She yelled at her friends that had hurt her. “You just wait till I’m dead, then you’ll be sorry!” She then stomped off. Sometimes the angry edge to silent withdrawal is easily evident. Most of the time we are more sophisticated than the grade school level.

Silence is a refusal to share the deep value of the “little toe” perspective. It is theft.

Eph. 4:25-29 begins talking about speaking truth to one another. It specifically says that we need to speak the truth to each other because we are one body. Then it either changes the subject abruptly to discuss anger or the topic shifts to anger because refusing to speak truthfully to one another is rooted in anger. Then it either changes the subject abruptly to discuss theft or the topic shifts to theft because refusing to speak truthfully (rooted in anger) is essentially denying the other person what they really have a right to… i.e. theft. Finally the topic abruptly jumps to speaking to one another in encouraging ways, or it is contrasting the same theme all along. “You owe it to the members of the body to bring your perspective in honesty and humility, rather than lashing out or withdrawing in anger and thereby stealing from them your input, to which they have a right.” I would argue that the Holy Spirit did not jump from one disjointed topic to another (starting and ending with how we speak to one another) but that He skillfully and wonderfully made the connections that refusing to speak truth to others in the body is rooted in anger and is theft.

Once we move past the point of speaking truthfully and lovingly from different perspectives, we set different goals. Once we set different goals, we begin the conflicts and quarrels.

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