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Fear (and Conflict)

…we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears (2 Corinthians 7:5). In this passage St. Paul captures what many experience and feel today. Society seems riddled with conflict and constantly watching and reading about these conflicts is breading anxiety and fear in many of us. Yet we should understand that times like these are opportunities to go deep, really search our own hearts, to get honest with ourselves, and grow in faith and love. Christ Himself shows us this repeatedly in the Gospels.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“…conflict is not something to be avoided or suppressed, but that it is an opportunity for ministry. Yes! Let me say that again – conflict can be an opportunity to minister to each other and, through that ministry, glorify God in the process. We have the opportunity to harness the transformative power of conflict for growth and healthy change… when faced with conflict, we focus on what the other person has done wrong or should do to make things right. In contrast, Scripture and the tradition of the Church call us to focus primarily on what is going on in our hearts when we are at odds with another.” (His Grace Bishop Joseph)

“This is the way [Jesus] constantly deals with our fears. He does not hesitate to bring on worse things, even more alarming than those before. They were troubled here not only by the storm but also by the distance from the land [Disciples in the boat during the storm]. Note that he did not too easily remove the darkness. He did not come quickly to their rescue. He was training them, as I said, by the continuance of these fears and instructing them to be ready to endure…A large part of the struggle with fear is actually an inability to experience fear directly…If you want to know the true nature of fear, look straight into it. Fear, anger, envy—any afflictive thought or feeling—cannot withstand a direct gaze. But if we look at the story and feed on the story we tell ourselves of our fear, anger, envy, etc., affliction thrives. Affliction feeds off the noise of the commenting, chattering mind.” (St. John Chrysostom, Martin Laird)

“Christ is at His most paradoxical when He says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34; note that a similar passage, Luke 12:51, uses the word “division” rather than “sword”). Those who try to live Christ’s peace may find themselves in trouble…Sadly, for most of us the peace we long for is not the Kingdom of God, but a slightly improved version of the world we already have. We would like to get rid of conflict without eliminating the spiritual and material factors that draw us into conflict…Does fear play a bigger role in my life than love?...The peacemaker is a person aware that ends never stand apart from means: figs do not grow from thistles; neither is community brought into being by hatred and violence. A peacemaker is aware that all persons, even those who seem to be ruled by evil spirits, are made in the image of God and are capable of change and conversion.” (Jim Forest)

“Conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, to serve others, and to grow to be like Christ….When we know we are perfectly loved by God and nothing can be added to or taken away from our identity, we can interact with others without conflict or fear.” (Ken Sande, Kevin Scherer)


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