In 1878 a dispute arose between two southern gentlemen over the ownership of a hog. One man claimed that because of the markings on the pig’s ears, the other man must have stolen it from him. The dispute became acrimonious as neither one of them was willing to concede to the other. The case escalated and went before the local justice of the peace. A witness was brought in who was relative to both men and as a result of his testimony, the hog remained with its present owner. However, that witness was then killed by two men from the losing party, and the Hatfield / McCoy rivalry was born. This feud has become an American legend because of the hate and lawless conflict it encompassed over the course of many years. In the end, dozens of members from the rival families lost their lives. But the rivalry wasn’t officially over until June 14, 2003, when the descendants came together for an official truce. In fact, June 14, is officially known in Kentucky and West Virginia as Hatfield and McCoy Reconciliation Day.
Though largely symbolic, that had to be a fairly tragic gathering. Just think about how many lives were lost or ruined because of a collective inability to put aside differences and reconcile with one another. Any one of us would gladly go back in time to buy a replacement hog if we could. Of course that’s impossible.
However, the next best thing we can do is to learn from their foolish mistakes. We’ve got to learn to get along- to compromise- to dialogue through our differences and find common ground. Yet, in an age of outrage, where the internet and social media serve as bullhorns to espouse divergent political views and opinions, we face imposing challenges to societal harmony.
The discord has not stopped at the boundaries of the Church, either. The conflicts that are raging in our culture today have instead ignited division within our churches. Our Houses of Worship that should be known for the peace and love of Christ have instead become prime examples of how far we have strayed from His Word.
But there is good news. First- He loves us anyway. We are His children, His family, and His grace covers all our sin. That alone is enough! However, it gets even better. We have in the Bible many instances where there is division among God’s people. That may sound like bad news, but it actually isn’t. The Church survives! God’s not going to let it be destroyed- even from within. The good news for us is that we can go back in time and examine these stories to hear a Word from God regarding how we should react today. We can find wisdom, peace, humility, and reconciliation with one another by responding in obedience to God’s Word in the midst of our divisions today.
I invite you to join with me in learning from the feuding of Euodia and Syntche- two godly women locked in conflict that threatened to wreck the church in 1st century Philippi. If we listen carefully to their story, and the words God spoke to them through the Apostle Paul, we will find a roadmap for healing and reconciliation within our churches today.
God bless you, have a great weekend, and I hope to see you either in person or online this Sunday at 10:15 am as we study Philippians 4:1-3 together.
-Pastor Nathan Rice