The year was 1325 in picturesque northern Italy. Two cities, Bologna and Modena, were in a bitter rivalry fueled through their political and religious differences. There had been several years of conflict already, but then the unthinkable happened—a wooden bucket was stolen from the bottom of the city well in Bologna.
The audacity, to steal the town’s well bucket!
A small group of Modena soldiers had secretly slipped into the middle of Bologna and managed to steal the oaken bucket from the bottom of the town’s water well. The audacity, to steal the town’s well bucket! The folks of Bologna, on discovering the missing bucket, did what any rational civic leaders or citizens would do when their dignity was hurt. They assembled thirty-two thousand soldiers and marched against Modena in an act of war! The Modenese met them with seven thousand of their own soldiers and promptly routed the Bolognese, albeit with several thousand casualties on both sides. Apparently to this day an ancient wooden bucket is still kept in the town of Modena as a memorial. Yes, they won the war over the oaken bucket, but at what cost?
In our family relations, how often does the story of conflict follow a similar tale? Small differences develop between those relationally or geographically close to us, and the differences begin to agitate and grow until an all-out war is declared, usually over something of little value! Jesus in Matthew 23:24 reminded us: “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (NKJV). He pointed out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who were zealous not to eat gnats (an unclean insect) while at the same time consuming an entire camel (also unclean). In the previous verse, Jesus referred to weightier matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith, implying that there are big things and small things in God’s sight. We humans instead maximize the minor things and minimize the major things.
This week explores what the Bible says about dealing with conflict and living in peace. Jesus presents a clear path to us that helps us focus on the really important thing—true love—and put in proper perspective things of lesser consequence. Being a disciple of Jesus is about submitting oneself, esteeming others better than yourself, being willing to go the extra mile, doing good to our enemies, and even surrendering our “rights” (Matt. 5:44; Phil. 2:3; Col. 3:18). These attitudes aren’t popular, but as Christians, it’s all about following Jesus’ example.
And it all starts in the family—with me.