A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34, 35)

In the fifty plus years I have worked with congregations, one question plagued me in every congregation: “What can we do?” Needs and opportunities always are greater than resources. More money is needed. More room is needed. More parking spaces are needed. More teaching materials are needed. More teachers are needed. More ministries are needed. More outreach is needed. More volunteers are needed. More involvement is needed. More leadership is needed. It never ends! Always more is needed!

I used to think that “if we could just obtain that (or be able to do that)” everything would be okay. However, what I thought was the key only promoted more growth (a good thing) that generated new stress produced by new needs and opportunities.

Last week a conflict arose, quietly was resolved, and passed with few noticing. Two ministries that are growing and serving urgent needs planned to use the same space at the same time. Thankfully, it was discovered that two good works were on a head-on collision. One ministry devised and used an alternate plan that enabled both ministries to meet and serve the needs of both groups. This was done so quietly that most thought it was planned to happen as it did.

Why? Why was there no uproar, no hurt feelings, no confrontation, or no accusations that “our ministry is more important than yours”? Love said both ministries are equally important. Love said, “Let’s make it work.” Love said, “Our ministries are not in competition—each serves the over-all objective of helping people.”

Will we—even with good intentions—always avoid internal conflicts? No! Even with our best efforts and best coordination, there will be times when collisions occur. We will never demonstrate how much we love each other in moments when all is well AS we demonstrate in moments of potential crisis. It is in the potential crisis “that never existed” that it becomes obvious how much we love each other! May love for each other and Jesus Christ always reign among us! May our love declare, “We belong to Jesus!”

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 24 January 2010

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