Catfish, Corduroy, and Conflict

catfish

You know sometimes I feel like our culture is changing faster than I can keep up. Sometimes it feels like our church is changing faster than I can keep up.  I have attended a lot of meetings in which someone is concerned or frustrated about a proposal or a decision. I think this is pretty common in church life. The danger is when we begin to feel like our voice isn’t being heard, or that someone doesn’t like us.  I think when someone does something I don’t like, it’s easy for me to think that they don’t like me.  I’m learning this is rarely the case. We just all have our own opinions. So are church disagreements and frustrations always a bad thing?

A number of years back the codfish industry on the northeast coast of the US had a problem. They were trying to deliver the fish cross country still tasting fresh.  When they froze the fish they lost too much flavor. When they transported them live in tanks filled with saltwater the fish got soft and mushy.

Finally they found a solution. They placed catfish in the tanks. Catfish are a natural enemy of codfish, so the catfish would chase them around the tanks all the time they were being transported. The cod now arrived in better condition than ever.

Relating this story, Chuck Swindoll points out that we all need catfish in our lives – the difficult disagreements and frustrating situations that may taste bitter, but keep us healthy and growing.

For those of us actively supporting and participating in the building of His church, we may rarely get our preferences.  Remember Peter, on whom Jesus said He would build His church?  In John 21 Jesus tells Peter, “When you were young you dressed yourself and went where you wanted to go, but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you [maybe even in corduroy!] and lead you where you do not want to go… And if I want John to remain alive until I return, what’s that to you? You just follow me.”

In Acts 8 a great persecution broke out against the church and everyone was scattered.  Saul was destroying the church and putting them in prison. Then we read in verse 4 that those who had been scattered were preaching the gospel everywhere they went. And these cities were filled with joy.

So if disagreements have you down, or you’re frustrated by your circumstances, or hurt by changes, be encouraged.  Even in the difficulties, God is at work, primarily using us to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.  But also to present us, the Bride of Christ, to Himself alive and strong and fresh, in better condition than ever!

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