Parking Lot Conversations

Posted on September 21, 2015 at 1:32 pm by heatherscherer No Comment

Those who attended church on Sunday heard me preach from the Bible in the book of James. If I were to title this book of the Bible, I would name it “Calling all Christians to Act Like Christians.” James pushes his early Christian congregation to be people whose actions display their faithfulness to God. Probably the most familiar passage from James is the one that says “Faith without action is dead.” For people who have been going to church for a long time this text is problematic because they know that good works does not mean you are a Christian. But as followers of Jesus our lives should reflect the things that Jesus cared about like the outcast, the poor and the unloved in his community. For some, actions lead to faith and for others faith results in actions. Both are good ways to deepen faithfulness.

But this week I was preaching from another text
James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a
Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask.You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

I focused on the section about conflicts and disputes among you. I have served in 5 churches and countless other committees where people have “Parking Lot Conversations” that undermine and destroy the potential of the committee they serve on. It is so frustrating to a leader if the people do not speak up in a meeting and then work in the background to derail the progress of a team. It is “unspiritual, devilish and full of selfish ambition.” James tells us that our work should be done with gentleness and wisdom, without boasting and falseness. Sometimes our own agendas are more important then God’s agenda and we destroy in the process. The scripture that the lectionary jumps over is where James called the good church folks “Adulterers!” when they try to serve God and the world at the same time.

I am very blessed that I have not seen this behavior in my church body yet. But as we grow and add opinions, the likelihood increases. I pray that if we are intentional about owning our own agendas and focusing on God’s leading that we can manage these things by facing them up front. We will never all agree and we each bring different gifts and graces to the table. If we can recognize value in each other as the body of Christ, then we can move forward in our kingdom work without the destructive cravings of getting our own way. Socrates said the “envy is the ulcer of our soul” and I thing those are wise words of caution as we work together as one body. We must be about God’s work and submit to what miracles can happen. Facebooktwitterby feather

Comments are closed.