“I went to a fight and a baseball game broke out.” That phrase was once meant to be a joke. Unfortunately, it has become a reality. Conflict has become our new normal. But this behavior is not limited to baseball. I could replace the word “baseball” with “political event,” or “school board meeting,” or even “Church committee.” We have lost our ability to reason with one another without resulting to demeaning, or even physically attacking, those with whom we disagree.
We say we want peace but, too often, we define peace as getting what we want as we ignore the cost to others. Jesus was once approached by someone who felt slighted by his brother and wanted Jesus to step in and force his brother to divide the inheritance. Jesus’ reply was a bit terse. “Who made me a judge over you?” Ouch! Jesus is quick to remind anyone listening that he isn’t going to deal with things we should deal with ourselves.
Some might say that conflict is the way life has always been. But is it? In 1863 the National Association of Base-Ball Players set down some rules for this sport. One of those rules clearly states how disagreements will be resolved. If a play is in dispute, the first recourse is for the players to resolve it. The umpire enters into the conversation only if the players cannot agree. At this point the team captains confer with the umpire and find common ground. If they cannot agree, the umpire will determine the outcome with no debate allowed. Even if the umpire’s decision contradicts any of the rules of the game, it is to be accepted with “silent acquiescence.” Imagine that! No yelling! No throwing of bats! No name calling! Just get back to the game.
Perhaps that is the point Jesus was making. We have the capability to reason our way to common ground. We can bring peace out of chaos. But do we want to? Or do we just want it our way? Think about it and pass it on.