Who here has perfect relationships…you never argue, never fight, never get angry with anyone? If anybody says yes…then I suspect you live in the land of denial, or you live alone and have no contact with anyone.
The “trick” if you will, is what do we do with the conflict? Do we let it control us…or do we take control? Do we let it divide us or do we use it to build unity?
Christ offers to us the way of control, of unity…the way of salvation.
Salvation is freedom, and that freedom is about having more control in our lives. Salvation is about making good choices that bring about unity and community.
This is what Christ brings to us. This is his invitation to us.
Clearly there was a conflict to the community of St. James. But apparently this went beyond small conflicts, it was becoming scandalous. There were open divisions going on. And for a Christian community to be openly divided caused the whole Faith to look bad. This is not good.
The writer must have understood the human condition well and why the conflicts are creating divisions. He does not use the word “ego”, but that is what he means.
See what happens, we humans have a tendency to place our identity, our egos, with our things. This is the Original Sin that we repeat over and over and over.
We connect our egos to our things, and those things can also be our concepts, our ideas. It can be our politics, our philosophy, it even be our sports teams, it is our patriotism, guns, bodies, our social status, our jobs, etc…
And if our identity is wrapped up in these things, then any possible “Threat” to them is a perceived threat to our identity. A threat to our ego.
So we react. We react with anger and fear, we get verbally and physically violent. We gossip, we cheat, we lie, we get all passive aggressive and we get actively aggressive.
I would be willing to bet the people we gossip about, judge harshly, insult, demean are people we at heart feel some threat.
We sin because our egos are in control.
And of course, the end product is division. Homes, marriages, parishes, communities, even nations break apart. People get so stubborn, so ego driven…there is no room for discussion, for finding better solutions.
If we are part of this division…then I think that we are not experiencing the salvation of Jesus Christ.
God’s will is that we be one.
Jesus says this clearly. We are to be one, as God is one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, ONE, but not Uniform,
Jesus rested his identity in knowing he was the beloved child of God. This was his freedom.
This is our freedom.
When we truly understand that our core identity as a person is that I, You, We, are children of God, loved by God perfectly and eternally…there is nothing to defend, protect or fight against.
The ego is diminished.
We can create unity and community. We can be free.
This what Jesus is trying to get his disciples to understand. They too are in danger of division because they are all worried about power and status….ego at play here too!
Truly believing and acting on our identity as children of God gives us the freedom to resolve our conflicts, so that they do not lead to divisions. It creates space to actually talk AND listen to one another. If I truly do not feel threatened by someone, I can actually communicate with them. Imagine if we sat down with a person we are angry with…and we believe that this person was incredibly and eternally loved by God, as much as us…
Arguing about parking spaces, placement of flowers, languages, taxes & money, status…becomes less important.
Some of it, downright silly. Think about our family, our marriages…friendships…why are they being strained?
Pray on this. Sit down and really look at our hearts.
I would be willing to be that our divisions come because of our egos. Can we die to these egos of ours, or rather unite our egos to God’s love and not things. Can we be people of the Eucharist, and use our conflicts to actually draw ourselves closer to one another?
The invitation to peace is there…Will we eat and drink of it?