Earlier this week I talked about submitting, especially in the face of conflict. And I mean(t) that. But I think I should clarify a little bit, after all, hindsight is 20/20. That night at the trustees meeting, we talked about some of the issues that have been raising so much controversy, but primarily avoided the issue of homelessness. Pre-meeting, after various conversations with colleagues/mentors/friends and a good bit of prayer I landed on submit. I also was well advised (thank you Dave) to ground myself in scripture (and not just one). At the meeting, I was ready to submit, nor forfeit, but submit, which did not mean "Ok, you win. We'll just kick the homeless off the property and call it a day," but did mean I wasn't going to prove I was *right*.
Instead, when the issue arose (at the last second of the meeting), I said, "Actually, this is a ministry issue, it affects all the ministries of the church and not just the trustees. So, we are going to address it at Ad Council next week when all the ministries are represented. If you have thoughts you'd like to share, you are more than welcome to come and do so."
Strangely, that was it. There wasn't argument or debate or people storming out in a fuss. It was clear. Maybe they didn't agree, but it was clear, and they accepted it.
The thing I want to clarify is this: while I thought I was submitting to them (at least as I went into the meeting), I was actually submitting to God, and in so doing, God created a way, or at least my will didn't get in the way. Think of it this way, before the meeting, I was fuming, irritated as all get-out that "good Christians" kept kicking people out, and those particular people might just be the one's we are supposed to be most intentional about welcoming in. I was ticked and I wanted to prove I was right about how we should handle things. But it was about my perspective in that, not God's. Now, ideally, my perspective on this comes from God's and there wouldn't be too many discrepancies, but I was still placing my will first and that was what the trustees would have had to cede to. But when I declared "I will submit," I actually declared--"It's all about you God." And that made all the difference in the world.
Now, this coming Tuesday night might turn out to be a nightmare as all the different sides come together and argue/discuss this issue. Or it might be that we edge just a little bit closer to the biblical mandates to care for the poor, love our enemies, and provide shelter/clothes/food/visitation to those who need it. Maybe.
But in any case, it is about God's will for our church. Not just when it's easy. Not just when it's desireable, but whenever it's God's will. I believe it is God's will for us to serve those in need. And, I also believe it is God's will that we submit to God, and to one another in love, respect, mutuality, and humility. So, I will try and do my part and pray God helps others do theirs.