The Church or the ordinary family is not immune to people who cause divisions and disruptions. The early church which had experienced a sense of community began to break away.
Examples of Paul and Barnabas arguing, Peter and Paul disagreeing. The Church in Corinth began to have deep divisions. People left the community and in some cases left it divided. Judas one of the disciples lived with other others, his heart was full of evil intensions.
This led him to act in a treacherous way. His heart had been separated from
others. Jesus had warned him about this, but he continued on his chosen path of destruction.
He did not want to listen to Jesus. The question to ask; when is it permissible to send someone away?
Vanier states, “These people, whose hearts are filled with jealousy, are often extremely intelligent, with a considerable ability to seize and exploit failings in legitimate authority or the community’s life. So they can appear clairvoyant, to have an ability to redress injustice and save the situation.”(Vanier 1982: 82)
These individuals have the ability to create havoc, sweet talkers, but
leave an after test in the mouth. These individuals because of these abilities can appear as people who are
community builders but ultimately sapping authority and undermining it is the
ultimate goal. Obviously it is important to let then go from the community. Jesus our master is clear when he says,
“If your brother sins against you go and tell him this fault, between you and
him alone. If listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does to
listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed
by two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the
church: and if he refuses to listen to the church, let him be to you as a
Gentile and a tax-collector”(Matthew 18 vs. 15-17)
Venier states that only the elderly in the community can take
responsibility for letting go of a member. At the same time these elders must
take responsibility for failing to deal with the member of the community and
setting up dialogue or avenues for conciliation. Elders would take
responsibility for not having recognised the cracks from the start and acted. The
community is not exempt either it too takes responsibility for its failure to
engage with the brother or sister.
So sending someone away may sound easy on the surface but is shows a
community that has failed on several levels in terms of human
relationships. However if someone
is causing scandal among members of the community, these need to be cautioned
and chastised. If this failures then sending away from the community becomes
the only option. Jesus says,
“..Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be
better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be
drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18 vs.6-8) Finally people are not
sent away from the community because they are difficult. Only those who have cut
themselves off from the community should be sent away.
For these possess a really danger in causing scandal in a community and
sapping confidence from legitimate authority. Sadly such people deflect the
community from its goals.
A Commentary on Jean Vanier -Community and Growth, this book is worth reading as people set up a communities
Conflict can be said to be good for a community from time to time. It sharpens our minds and ideas. Of course conflict that is physically and destructive is not good conflict for example war, enslavement and human traffic these are bad conflicts which do not ever produce a positive outcomes. On the other hand healthy arguments lead the community to discover more of itself and formulate clear and inspiring visions and missions statements. These will stimulate growth in a community. Communities require healthy conflicts for them to grow and to deepen. Of course sometimes conflict arise within ourselves and we project them to others. Such confict is as a result of us on our part refusing to grow up. It is when egos are strong and sensibility is thrown out. Conflict and tensions arise because we want to control the conversation and the direction of that conversation and not to allow the free flow of ideas. Ideas can threaten us especially if these are taking us away from our comfort zones and then conflict will arise.
Tensions arise because of fear of the future. Not having enough money to pay the bills can cause endless conflict. The tension arises because of the sense of responsbility towards those who we owe money and the commitments that we may have as a community. Such conflict can make us be fearful of the future and lead us to failure to make or take appropriate decisions.
Tension arises within a community because people have not come to terms with themselves. It is quite a struggle to come to terms with oneself. The conflict of the self. Self acceptance is the most difficult thing to do. Hence Holy Scripture teachs us to love our neighbour as we love ourself. We cannot accept the next person as being loveable if we do not have the same view of ourself.
Of course tensions and conflict are not limited to these only. What is important is that conflicts which result in tensions can bring a community together as it struggles within itself to find a solution to the problem. It can be a wonderful time for the community for this increases fellowship and sense that we belong together. Conflict and tensions help us to seek the place of the pain and the cause of that pain and to bring relief.
Conflict helps to come to terms with our spiritual poverty. We move away from blaming others and we take responsibility for our party in the argument. When a community faces the conflict together it means that we have recognized that we need to take responsibility and not to pass the buck. I Peter 2 vs.1-10, says to the Christain community, "Be sure, then, you are never spiteful, or deceitful, or hypocritical, or envious ad critical of each other. You are new born, and like babies you should be hungry for nothing but milk- the spiritual honesty which will help you to grow up to salvation-now that you have tested the goodness of the Lord." If gossip, slander and egos are not checked this my lead the community ceasing to exist and us losing the anionting of the Holy Spirit, which we first received when we where baptised.
Finally conflict and tensions are good bed fellows for these bring us to our knees in prayers as we seek the wisdom and guidance of God as a community. It is an acknowledgment before God that we are helpless. This helps us to overcome the crisis and to move on as a community. A community without God at the centre of it, is bound to fail. A community needs to be continually to be soaked in the life of prayer, day in and day out. For the Holy Spirit will continue to bring light in those areas of the community that need healing and this takes place through the name of Triune God.
Fr. Barnabas Nqindi
My name is Barnabas Sibusiso Nqindi, rector of St Barnabas-Bluff. I enjoy a good debate and I love to see people grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ