Conflict avoidance has become so much a part of our lifestyle that even devout believers conclude to depart as a protest rather than to meet an issue head-on. Planning one’s own exit is merely an act of cowardice. Discretion is not the better part of valor if conflict avoidance is the rule when conflict resolution is what is called for in the battles we face. And yet, how many times do we hear the words in church gatherings “if…then I am gone?” A coward seeks destruction whereas a brave person seeks to preserve good and to build upon it.
The conflicts in our Church today is the reflection of the hopelessness of the believer. Love hopes all things St. Paul tells us. Despair takes all of the fight from our love and gives us nostalgia and sentimentality for the way things once were. Despair is a void in the soul. And so to fill that void we seek power, are greedy for gain, and look to make our own disciples. Knowing that despair is the great temptation we face is feeling the desire to let the void grow and consume our lives.
I have often thought that atheism grows among the clergy because of the bad behavior of the laity. The atheism of a society grows because of the bad behavior of both groups.
The cynicism of church growth strategies and the mega-church temptations sickens would-be believers so that the name of Christ is blasphemed because of the “true believers.” Acquiring control and power was the life of the bramble and the destruction of Abimelech.
St. John reminds us that “perfect love casts out fear.” It is fear that leads to despair; and despair that causes us to make decisions about where and under what potential circumstances we will leave our Church.
Some may argue the issue is true faithfulness to God. This claim is the major flaw of Protestantism. If I do not agree I quit in the name of the authority of my own biblical interpretation. Faithfulness is about responsibility and commitment to love and value others as the people of God. The prophet Elijah made a similar mistake believing his persecution by Jezebel mattered more than the “seven thousand who had not bent the knee before Baal.” Whatever happens the people of God matter to God even if some see the others as sinful.
Love produces faithfulness in us. Despair is the enemy of love and causes division and destruction in the body of Christ. Anger and despair produce the sin of heresy which is born out of sentimentality and nostalgia. God is love. despair is godlessness. Now the question remains, why are some of us planning our exits?