Conflict as Opportunity
A two-inch tall sequoia pine cone can become a 300-foot tree, but only through fire.
The pine cone takes two years to mature, then waits for a forest fire. When one strikes, it melts the resin, finally releasing the pine cone to its amazing potential.
In some ways, the church is like that pine cone except when we face the fires of divisive issues, we often do all we can to avoid them. There are many ways to deal with a wicked problem that don’t require the fruit of the spirit. But what if these cultural pressures are just the opportunity we’ve been praying for? A gymnasium for spiritual growth.
Think about it, if you wanna get strong you don’t avoid pain, you press into it until the weight gets easier and easier to lift. If you want to get strong in Christian virtues, like love and patience, you work those muscles by loving those you might find hard to love and being patient with those who test your patience.
After the fire, that little pine cone can grow for up to 5,000 years, producing thousands of pine cones. Making saints takes time too. There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity but we’ve been given everything we need for life and godliness including the fires of conflict, guaranteed to test our mettle.
The world is longing to see a stronger more beautiful church, a place where people practice what they preach right here in the midst of the fire.
Some pine cones mature for two years and then wait for fire to complete their growth. How do worship and church life form us in ways that make us ready to face the fire of conflict?
Share a story of a time in your life when pain was an important part of your growth.
Weightlifting makes muscles strong. To be strong in virtue, we must work those muscles. In your church, describe some times and places where you see people working the muscles of love and patience.
Name some wicked problems that are impacting your church. Apply the pine cone metaphor to them. Imagine the fires of conflict transforming your church. What would that look like?
Share a story about a time when you saw people in a church “practicing what they preach, in the middle of the fire.” What did people say and do? What was the outcome?