Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Jesus: 4 ways to deal with conflict

We're going through Mark's gospel at the moment, and dealt at the weekend with a series of conflict situations in chapters 2 and 3. I was powerfully struck by the way that Jesus deals with them: frustratingly, it's different every time.

Scene 1: the field. The disciples are picking corn, it's the Sabbath, the Pharisees tell them off (and by extension, tell Jesus off, he's their rabbi, they should know not to work on the Sabbath).
Jesus response: remedial bible study - shows a biblical precedent for what he and his followers are doing. Interestingly, he slips in the even more shocking claim that he's Lord of the Sabbath, but the Pharisees are too busy straining out a gnat to notice.

Scene 2: the synagogue. A man with a withered hand is there, Jesus is going to heal him but knows that his opponents see this as sabbath breaking. They've not told him directly, but he's picked up the muttering and the rumours.
Jesus response: stand up to them. He could have easily put the healing off another day, after all, the bloke had probably had a bad arm for years, what difference would 24 hours make? But Jesus instead brings the muttering and rumours into the light, and exposes the toxic and inhumane attitude of the teachers.

Scene 3: the family. I had to laugh. They hear, from miles away, that Jesus is skipping meals, and set off to restrain him. After all, how can he save the world on an empty stomach? After quite a journey, the family arrive at the house where Jesus is teaching.
Jesus response: ignore them. He doesn't even go outside. 'Here's my family' he cheerfully says, gesturing to the people around him. There are some bits of opposition which we just have to let go, rather than confront. Not every hill needs to stage a battle.

Scene 4: Jesus and the devil. Unable to nail him on the law, the teachers then ascribe Jesus teachings to the devil.
Jesus response: seek a meeting. 'Jesus called them' - he seeks out the people who are rubbishing him and reasons it out with them face to face.

In between Scenes 2 and 3, Mark puts 2 other snippets. The first shows Jesus carrying on as normal, he's not being deflected from his calling and mission by opposition. The second shows him calling disciples: Jesus is not going to be isolated, he makes sure he has people with him. Both are good ways to deal with opposition, which can easily paralyse us into inactivity, or isolate us.

It's all tough stuff, even tougher is discerning which response is best in any given situation. I don't claim to be any expert on this, but it seemed to connect with some folk on Sunday so thought I'd blog it. Thoughts?

1 comment:

  1. Well ... it's not a good idea to take a 'one size fits all' approach, is it???