What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? … – James 4:1-3 and 10 (NIV)

*   *   *

To what extent are our battles engaged in the “heavenly realms” surrounding us contrasted to the conflicting desires within each of us — which then compete outwardly against the conflicting desires within those we deal with daily?

James points us to a psychological dimension of spiritual labor as we delve into our hidden emotions and needs and the ways they collide and contradict each other. There are times they fight and quarrel within me. I need to listen!

*   *   *

It is fashionable today to speak of “my” truth or “my” Inner Light, a position early Friends would have dismissed as meaningless. Such variable “truth” was something the detested Ranters would invoke to justify indulging in whatever excesses they desired. There was nothing reliable in their message, so they recanted, when convenient.

Relationship, of course, demands dependability. Faith takes this to a timeless dimension. So the fighting and quarreling within me undermines this stability. Curiously, eternity demands psychological work in the inward moment now present before me.

*   *   *

That Foundation Principle, upon which their Religion is built, which Principle is Christ the Prince of Peace, who utterly disallows of all coercive Compulsion, Force, Constraint or Violence to be used in Matters of Religion; and teaches such who learn of him, in Meekness to instruct those that are ignorant of the Way of Truth, and then patiently to wait till he inclines their Hearts to walk in it; so that having their Dependance upon, and Expectation from the Lord alone, they dare not attempt the Propagation of the Gospel of his dear Son, by the Strength, and in the Skill and Time of Man, without being guided, directed and subjected by him, in whom is all their Help found … (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)


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