Although devotion to God and to God’s ways offers a life of fulfilment and meaning, it also often leads us into conflict. The reason for this is that the values of God’s Reign are so different from those in the world around us. It is common for us to find ourselves at odds with ways that are considered ‘normal’ for our society, but that are revealed to be dysfunctional when seen through the lens of Jesus’ message and life. Sometimes the conflicts we face are with those in authority over us – governments, corporate bosses or religious leaders. Sometimes, and more painfully, our conflicts may be with those closest to us.

In the Lectionary readings for this Sunday, you may have read the accounts of one of two people who found themselves in conflict because of their relationship with God. In the Old Testament, David, who has finally succeeded in bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, expresses his joy and devotion by stripping down to his underwear and dancing passionately before God. His wife, Michal, however, does not approve, and when he returns home, she mocks him. In Mark’s Gospel, we read of John the Baptist who, after speaking out about the corruption and immorality of King Herod, finds himself in prison, and then executed, in the confrontation with the powers that be.

Like these two men, we will all find ourselves in situations of conflict as we follow Jesus. The challenge for us, though, is to oppose injustice and stand for what we believe in a spirit of love and humility. We are never released from the call to love even our enemies. In fact, when we can deal with conflict in a spirit of love and humility, that’s when God’s grace shines most clearly through us.

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