One of the things that is coming to the center of our shared faith is that as much as we have an individual walk with Christ, it's linked intrisically to the walk of faith we share as a local church community. We have had some revelatory moments about how true that is in the past couple years, both good and bad, and it struck me again this week how critical it is for us to allow God to build in us the kind of love and commitment for one another that he has for us.
One of the reasons we haven't seen the kind of growth and progress we expected is that we really had a much lower level of care and commitment to one another than we cared to admit. We are now seeing that changing that lower level involves growing through things that people have been reluctant to work through in the past, including resolving conflict, repenting and asking forgiveness, restoring broken relationships and seeking understanding with one another to eliminate places for division to creep in.
This past week I needed to make contact with three people in our congregation, two I needed to apologize to and one I needed to go and resolve an offense with.
While I realize that the devil is never thrilled with people making relationships work, I continue to be amazed at how we let outselves get pscyhed out by seeking resolution, either by overblowing things or simply poo-pooing (can you say that in a blog?) them as unimportant. Hey, I get that working things out holds about the same amount of sex appeal as taking out the trash or scrubbing the toilet, but the benefits of taking care of relationships is a lot like enjoying a clean home or bathroom- the longer you leave things, the more you hate being there, the less likely you are to clean it and the more costly (and distressing) it gets to clean it when it gets to a point where you just can't take it anymore. Clean bathrooms are a treat, and it's easy to relax and live in a clean house- right relationships are like that too.
So I made the three calls I needed to make, and instead of having three headaches I ended up having three really positive and beneficial conversations that left me with three improved relationships.
When you approach resolution from a heart like Christ, it has nothing to do with how correct you or the other person are. It has everything to do with how right your relationship is, and, all of a sudden, who's correct becomes immaterial; what needs to be done to make sure that right relationship continues to flourish takes center stage and God gives you grace to put your best foot forward regardless of what anyone else is doing.
You'll take it on the chin, demonstrating forbearance and love for someone, and they see your true motivation and are willing to find a place of commonality in Christ and work things out. What I love most is that instead of having an ugly bruise that reminds you of a sore spot, your wear a mark that reminds you that love conquers all and provides you with hope and courage to nurture that relationship again and again.
Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Proverbs 27:6