The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11
Isaiah wrote his book of prophecy approximately 1,000 years before the birth of Christ. This specific verse creates the image of a lush, verdant sanctuary where God’s love is a source of spiritual refreshment. The verse also advises that God is always there to guide us. I believe that with all my heart.
I’m always amazed however, when the nexus between scripture and religious practice exposes the vicissitudes of human nature. A recent church meeting included discussion of the pastor’s proposal to decrease the number of Sunday services to 2, including Sunday School. A long line of my Christian sisters and brothers confronted our pastor with reasons why that shouldn’t happen. For the most part the discussion was civil and respectful.
Then the pastor discussed allegations of money laundering that had been levied against him by a church member. The church member, who was present, then went to the microphone in anger, and yelled at the pastor. Bedlam ensued, and the pastor offered the possibility of police involvement to remove the offending congregant.
How could this outcome have been avoided? What was the divine purpose served by this fiasco? Aside from my personal distaste for conflict, I wondered how the children of the church learn conflict resolution in a climate of hostility and distrust. I wondered how the church population can grow and receive the Word in the face of fractured loyalties and hurt feelings. As an individual, I know that God is a source of Love and healing. My personal life is a testament to that. But after this meeting, I can only wonder how we translate those very passionate human emotions into collective Christian action that glorifies God.