Is Your Church in Conflict? Come to the Table!

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communion

We often look for Chronos (man’s time) resources to resolve church conflicts. So we bring in mediators, read books together, plan conferences, schedule sermon series, and implement lists of best conflict resolution practices. What we often forget, however, is that Kairos (God’s time) resolution of conflict is already available at the Communion Table.

Paul spoke of Communion as the fellowship of sharing in the body and blood of Christ so it is something we do together (1 Cor. 10:16). And since the Table is the place for that kind of intimacy, it’s also the place where the absence of that intimacy is most painfully revealed.[1]

On the night of His betrayal and arrest Jesus prayed that all of us would be one just as He and the Father are one (John 17:1-2). The unity that Jesus spoke of is not only in our vertical relationship with him but also our horizontal relationship with each other.

The Corinthian Church was challenged to take a good, long look at what was going on in their hearts before participating in Communion. Paul wrote, “Let a person examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:28). So if we are preparing for and observing this ordinance regularly in a worthy manner based on those stipulations, then how could we possibly remain at odds with each other (1Cor. 11:27)?

Communion can remind us not only of what relational healing God offered in the past but what He promises to continue to offer in the future. Coming back to the Table more can encourage us to heal relationships this time when we might not have had the resolve to heal them last time. So if our church is in conflict, then why wouldn’t we want to come back there more often?

 

 

[1] Henri J. M. Nouwen, With Burning Hearts (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1994), 74-75.

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2 Responses to “Is Your Church in Conflict? Come to the Table!”

  • David Manner Says:

    Great additional commentary, Dustin. Thanks for the insight.

  • Dustin Parker Says:

    Over the past 20 years, I have seen the truth of this. But just to add communion/Lord’s Supper/Eucharist isn’t the reason this works.

    Revealing to people the love of God at that moment, as they consider His body broken, His blood shed – for them, and the person next to them, and 4 rows behind, that is where the unity begins. It is a way of helping people explore and know the dimensions of the love of God, which is too incredible to be explained. It is knowing God is present (the old liturgical “the LORD be with you” is answered with “Amen” right before communion – rather than “and also with you!” to amplify this, to slow us down, to savor this moment where His love is so revealed.

    That is where the healing and eventual unity comes from.

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