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Published Date: April 9, 2008

Published Date: April 9, 2008

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“Properly Scared”

“Be properly scared and go on doing what you have to do” 
– Flannery O’ Connor.

Do you experience physical discomfort when facing conflict? Would you prefer a visit to the dentist to an argument? If so, then you’re entirely normal. In fact, you’re in the majority! Most people prefer harmony and unity to conflict and division. Most of us in ministry have encountered enough conflict for a lifetime, right?

Yet, when it comes to the great moral issues of the day, like declaring the scriptural basis for the shared leadership of women and men, one must be ready to face conflict, and that takes enormous courage! Justice, as taught in the Bible, always demands bravery. C. S. Lewis once said, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.” Apart from courage, can other virtues really thrive? Is not the essence of Christian conversion and one’s daily walk with Christ rooted in a desire to be teachable; a brave willingness to hear from God even as we discover something that humbles us or opposes our presuppositions and prejudices? Oh, that God would send all of us peers who love us, gently confront us, and encourage us.

CBE recently surveyed our members and discovered that many churches want to begin a discussion about gender, authority, and Scripture, but fear the consequences. Many are afraid of conflict, misunderstanding, and separation from people with whom they have worshipped for years. We are all in need of courage, which is why I love the quote above by Flannery O’Connor. We can acknowledge our fears and yet continue to respond courageously, when prompted by God.

Let us pray, as a community, that God will give us courage to begin a discussion, share a book, bring a friend to a CBE conference, or send someone to CBE’s website. Pray that God will give us wisdom in knowing how to bring changes in our denominations, churches, and Bible studies, one conversation at a time, one book at a time, one prayer at a time. It may feel frightening, but with God we can take baby steps each day! We’re praying that all of us will be able and willing to do that!