Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fellowship (among believers) (10/11/07)
- TITLE: The Dark Side of Fellowship
By Sharon King
LEAVE COMMENT ON ARTICLE
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
ADD TO MY FAVORITES
Among the more subtle dark sides of fellowship is manipulation. We can engage in manipulation, convinced of our good intentions and with no malice of any kind in our hearts. At a point of conflict, our spirituality prompts our desire to bring harmony to discord and peace to turmoil. But at what cost? At times, resolving a conflict distills down to convincing someone that we are right, and he or she is wrong. Are we willing to sacrifice some of our desire to be right for the sake of the well-being of another? Or, do we slide almost imperceptibly into “manipulation mode,” using the trust and familiarity that grows from fellowship as tools to obtain the outcome we want?
One of most poignant examples of manipulative behavior in a religious context—and one of the most profound responses to it—can be found in the dialogue of the movie masterpiece, A Man for All Seasons, the story of Thomas More. Thomas’s close friend, the Duke of Norfolk, tries to convince Thomas to join with all the other nobles in the court of King Henry VIII who have signed a document endorsing the King’s divorce and re-marriage, despite the Pope’s disapproval. Thomas More feels compelled to acknowledge the Pope’s authority and refuses to sign the document, knowing this action may result in his execution for treason (which it does). The following dialogue ensues between Thomas and the Duke of Norfolk (taken from “Memorable Quotes—A Man for All Seasons” at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060665/quotes ):
The Duke of Norfolk: Oh, confound all this, Thomas. I'm not a scholar. I don't know whether the King’s marriage was lawful or not, but look at these names! Why can't you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!
Thomas More: And when we die, Norfolk, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?
I was a member at a church that was going through a difficult time several years ago. Our pastor had angered some parishioners regarding a financial issue, including some members of the church board on which I served. A “movement” began to find new leadership for our church and “convince” our pastor that he should leave. I was aware of the allegations, and I realized that our church needed to confront the issue. However, I was very close to the pastor and considered him a personal friend. I withheld judgment until some tangible evidence of wrongdoing could be produced. The chair of our church board, who was deeply involved in the “movement” and aware of my support for our pastor, called me one evening and left a message asking if we could meet for lunch. She mentioned that she knew I had been out of town and might be “out of touch” with some important church details. I recall feeling very anxious after I got the message. I wrestled with the decision to have lunch with her, suspecting that I would be subjected to some arm-twisting about the situation with the pastor. I decided to send her an email (somewhat cowardly, I confess). I told her that, given the problems we were having, I preferred to limit discussions about church business to board meetings.
Yes, I also have been guilty of manipulative behavior from time to time, so I include myself when I say we all need to search our hearts and motives when our fellowship with other believers tempts us to sway someone’s contrary opinion to our way of thinking. True fellowship, after all, should mimic the tolerance, acceptance, and forgiveness that Jesus so lovingly displays to each of us all the time.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.