Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Icy Mocha Syndrome and Church Conflict

I really like James Van Yperen's Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Conflict. Van Yperen's principles would help overcome a lot of interpersonal conflict, like marital conflict.

For example: 

"In the Spirit-formed community our identity is changed from self (whether our collective self or personal self) to that of the Cross.
Instead of gathering around the personality and gifts of a central leader, instead of going to church to boost my self-esteem, have my needs met, or increase my knowledge, I gather with brothers and sisters in mutual submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ. We meet one another at the foot of the Cross, becoming the body of Christ, a living witness to what is possible when people live into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. When the church is formed around self-esteem, we condemn our members to live lonely, powerless lives, each one trying to grow in human strength. In biblical community, by contrast, believers grow up together as all submit to the truth of Scripture and to the operation of God’s Spirit to and through one another.

So, while our identity changes, our reality changes also." (p. 75)

(Here's a criticism: I want Van Yeperen to get away from all language that talks about "going to church." It's misleading and is, unfortunately, the DNA of "Christians" today. If you are a Jesus-follower you don't "go to" church, you are the church. Talking like this helps avoid an us-them mentality.)

"Church" is not about having "my needs met." That never was the idea. But in our consumer culture "church" is some external "other" that either succeeds or fails in meeting my (the consumer's) needs. If my needs aren't met I shop somewhere else. What a mess we are in! And, BTW, that's heresy, isn't it?

If you are a Jesus-follower fix your eyes on Jesus. You are "church." Submit to Jesus as Lord, to the moving of God's Spirit, and to one another. That would be radical.

Find church people who serve up Pure Jesus rather than icy mochas. The icy mocha syndrome lies at the root of church conflict. Call this the logical fallacy of "appeal to the consumer."