Considering Turf Wars

Living in Uptown, Chicago where street gangs vie for business… considering both business people and drug lords in the news… politicians, the tech industry, nation vs. nation etc., etc., the longer I live the more I see turf wars.

We can truly think and say it’s about right vs. wrong- and sometimes that’s absolutely true… but a great deal of the time it’s about “your way” or “my way”. And you and I both assume our personal way is THE best way, period. Sometimes either you or I are correct. Sometimes not. Sometimes neither of us is!

Then we have what some consider a filthy word: “compromise”.

It’s been many years since I heard a well-known minister carry on about compromise being pretty much a synonym of “selling out”, the “slippery slope”, the “going to hell in a handbasket” syndrome.

Again, this -can- be and at times IS the case.

My own perspective is that there are times when an argument is at core a matter of turf, of win-or-lose, about power, authority and who gets to ride in the lead float in the Big Parade. Petty in my view, just kingdom-of-self stuff.

As time moves along I hear of church folks, ministry staff, political leaders, business and other people, unions and corporation execs. all sliding down this same old funnel.

I wonder if many Americans have faced the fact that within our broad, immigrant society of 200 years we’ve got a DNA that just screams “excess”… “no moderation here!”… “all or nothing in this game” and the like?

For all our good qualities (and there are many), Americans are often known for our lack of moderation, lack of sense, lack of long-term consideration of how X, Y or Z will affect people and even entire nations.

Jesus said “To whom much is given, much will be required”. We have SO much, especially in comparison to most of the nations and people groups outside of the U.S.A.!

So I would like to posit this: sometimes “compromise” isn’t a dirty word. Sometimes it is synonymous with “sense”, “proportion”, “consideration” and even “love”. Not bleeding-heart, hard-core leftist ideology, but a desire to link rather than separate.

I find this Spirit (yes… Holy Spirit) and spirit among plenty, even most of those I meet in The Evangelical Covenant Church. Do we all agree on everything? NO. Do we fuss and fight over issues, jockey for position and sometimes see relationships sever? Yes.

Nobody does it perfectly.

But you can’t have community if you don’t fellowship over what you have in common. Sharing is not an option. It’s actually commanded by God in both the Old and New Testament. Now, you can rebel against Him and His Word, plenty of us do (I sin daily, I’m sure of that!) but let’s not pretend ours is the pristine life of faith and love.

Further, common sense seems less and less common in our culture.

Again, I don’t mean by this to say “If you saw things MY way, THEN you’d have common sense dude!”… not at all.

What I mean is that the lack of patience, lack of listening and really trying to hear what, why and how someone you disagree with has come to their position on this or that often blows common sense, any true sense of sharing grace (important word, no?) and at least being sure what you THINK you understand the other person or people-groups views are… right out of the water. And we all drown for it.

After four decades of living close-quarters with hundreds of very different (with very different views) people of widely differing ages, subcultures, spiritual experiences (or lack of them), etc., it does seem to me the general sense of education, communication skills, listening, actively learning to interact rather than “take your marbles and go home” produces (and perhaps signifies) an element of humility and sane compromise. Perhaps there is something God-honoring in a desire to stick together and stick it out even when the crosses show up… and show up they will in ANY sort of gathered people.

When this isn’t done on both sides of the street, aisle (Congress), woods, neighborhood, bad things happen. Little castle walls go up. Moats get dug, fortifications and weaponry appear on the parapets.

Jesus said “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword”. And He also COMMANDED US to love one another. All this with the knowledge (I assume!) we would never fully agree with one another on any number of issues.

Your turf? My turf? Maybe “our” turf is closer to what the Lord calls us to?

Matter of fact, when it all boils down, it’s all HIS turf.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn


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