Rethink Church

Reshaping Our Tools of Conflict


So first, we have to make this spear to see if it can be turned into a pruning hook. Now, most of us will probably never hold a sphere as anything other than a prop, and most blacksmiths will probably never make one as anything other than a test of their skill to see if they can do it. But making one requires some steps. First, we put the iron in the fire. We get it hot. We've all felt metal. When it's cold, it can't be moved, but when it's hot, you can shape it and reshape it. You can form it into all kinds of things. We'll hammer out the point. We'll hammer in the blade and make the socket to attach it to the pole. We'll do all the steps to make this sphere this tool of conflict. Now, most people will probably never make a tool in a shop like this, though I encourage you to try it sometime. It's a lot of fun. I think, though, whether we ever make a tool in a blacksmith shop or not, we all make tools every day. We are all toolmakers. We make the tools that we use to interact with the world around us and with the people around us. We make tools out of the way we talk. We make tools out of the way we listen, out of the way we present ourselves. All too often I think we make tools of everyday conflict. We make words that are far sharper or more penetrating than anything I will ever make at this forge and at this anvil. And we hurl them at other people. Not just people we don't like. Not just people we say are our enemies. But sometimes, we hurl them at the people we say we care about the most in the world. We form a rhythm of division that teaches us to be afraid of people who are different than us. People of different races, of different nations, of different backgrounds, of different politics. And we let that conflict drive us. We make all kinds of tools. But, you know, I've noticed when we make tools of conflict, when we form angry words, when we form arguments and we go out and we wield them, hoping they'll make us feel better that they so often don't. We go out and we engage in conflict, and sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. But every time we inspire the person we're arguing with, that we're fighting with, to go and form their own tools, to form their own angry words to hurl back at us, to form their own fears of us as we have formed our fears of them. And so conflict escalates, arguments escalate. They escalate not just in the world, but in our lives. When we make tools of violence, when we forge angry tools, they often don't leave us any better off. They don't leave us any more secure. They still leave us afraid. You can see we're forging in the tip. It's going to take a little bit more. It's going to take a lot more refinement, but we are beginning to have our spear.