Summary: A plea to pursue peace even in the midst of conflict
Postcards from the Past:
Finding Peace in Conflicts
Scripture Reading: 3 John 1-14
Little Billy was playing in the family room
while his dad watched the evening news on TV.
When the newscaster started talking about rioting and unrest between Israelis and Palestinians, Billy turned to his dad.
"Daddy,” he said, “how do wars get started?"
His father, who was always alert to good teaching opportunities, said, "Well, son, take World War I, for instance. It all started when Germany invaded Belgium --"
At that moment, Billy’s mother, who had entered the room just moments before, got her husband’s attention. "Dear, that’s not how it happened. It started when that archduke was assassinated."
“Look,” the husband said, scowling, “are you answering this question, or am I?!"
At that, his wife turned away in a huff, stormed from the room, and slammed the door on her way out. All was quiet for a few moments, then, until little Billy broke the awkward silence.
"Dad,” he said. “You don’t have to tell me anymore. I think I figured it out."
We all have conflict in our lives.
Sometimes it’s between husband and wife.
Sometimes between parent and child. . .
Between in-laws . . .
Or coworkers . . .
Or roommates . . .
Or friends . . .
I was talking this past July 4th to my friend Tim Derickson, who I know is a friend to many in this room; Tim’s a Hanover Township trustee, and he told me that a large portion of his time as a trustee is spent refereeing disputes between neighbors, property owners, tenants, and so on.
And sometimes, believe it or not--
I know this will shock many of you--
conflict arises in the church.
And not just today, in the 21st century,
but it’s been that way since the beginning.
We may think, from time to time,
“Ah, if we could only return to the days of old,” you know?
When spiritual giants walked the earth,
when the church was in its infancy . . .
Back when they had dynamic apostles who knew how to take charge;
Back when they had fiery prophets, speaking God’s truth from church to church;
Back when they had men and women who’d seen Jesus and could speak from firsthand knowledge;
Back when the church was free from disagreement and division and error and conflict.
Well, guess what? THINK AGAIN.
An honest, careful look at the New Testament church reveals
the church in the city of Corinth was riddled with confusion,
the churches in Colosse and Galatia wrestled with doctrinal error,
the first church--in Jerusalem--struggled perenially with financial problems,
and the church in Philippi was dominated by two influential women who couldn’t stand each other!
In fact, we’re going to study this morning
a book of the Bible, God’s Word,
that was written to address
a really sticky situation in just such a church . . .
And, in the process, we’re going to try
to draw a few enduring lessons
from God’s eternal Word that may just help us find peace in the midst of conflict--whatever conflict we may be in or heading toward.
Good morning. My name is Bob Hostetler,
and I want to welcome you all
to Cobblestone Community Church,
here in the “metropolitan Oxford area.”
Let me also invite you,
if you haven’t done so already,
to open your Bible to the New Testament,
practically to the end,
to the book of 3 John,
the third-from-the-last book of the whole Bible!
If you’re using one of the free Bibles we’ve provided for your use,
either under every few chairs
or by the railing on your way in,
you’ll find it on p. 847.
And, if you worship here regularly,
let me encourage you to get in the habit of bringing your Bible with you
so you can read for yourself ,
with your own eyes
from your own Bible
what’s being taught up here at the front.
And if you don’t have a Bible of your own,
we would love for you to take one of ours home with you. . . Consider it your souvenir.
Now, anyone who was here last week
and managed to stay awake during the whole talk
MIGHT remember the little letter of 2 John,
the letter from “the elder”
to “the chosen lady” we studied last week.
Well, this morning, we study a similar letter that,
like 2 John,
was short enough to fit on
a single page of parchment,
making it what we might call
a “postcard from the past.”
So, if you would follow along in your own Bible,
and, if you wish, make use of the notes
that are provided for you in the programs
you received as you came in the door,