Pain in the community of faith

By Dave Henning / November 11, 2023

“As I listen to pain in the community of faith, rarely (if ever) have I heard anyone say that their interpersonal pain was sourced in theological disagreements about Christ’s deity or the nature of salvation, but rather in how they were treated. . . .  Does every question have one and only one reasonable answer?  Must someone always have to win?”- Alicia Britt Chole

In Chapter 44 (“Table Stretches”) of The Night is Normal, Alicia Britt Chole talks about the fifth tool to help deal with disillusionment in the community of faith.

5.  When disillusioned with God’s people, cultivate mental flexibility.  Because mental flexibility enables us to disagree, Dr. Chole quips, and still go out to dinner.  Instead, we set the threshold for disagreement bar quite low.  As a result, at the first sign of not being on the same page, we block, cancel, and bail on one another.  Even if the real issues lack eternal significance.

Certainly, Dr. Chole notes, our core values may fail to align, or our priorities compete.  But through the merciful invitation of our Savior, we sit at the table as equals.

6.  When disillusioned with God’s people, know when it is not your cow.  Moving on to Chapter 45 (“To Have or Not Have a Cow”), Dr. Chole defines differentiation as the ability to know when it is and is not your cow (responsibility).  Thus, clarity of thought means we base choosing to help using defined parameters regarding what is and is not our cow.

In addition, Dr. Chole explains:

“In the context of disillusionment with others differentiation makes us less vulnerable to being manipulated by the power of others’ emotions.  Knowing where we end and others begin helps us find enough ground to stand upon and make decisions based on accuracy instead of felt urgency.”

Finally, in Matthew 18 Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy, His burden light.  However, Dr. Chole quips, other people’s cows are not!

Today’s question: How do you respond to pain in the community of faith?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: His mercy restrains His truth”

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Dave Henning

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