Friday, January 18, 2013
Last Warning on Reconciliation
Scratching the Surface
(A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Restoring Relationships)
Some people like fights more than friendships.
A woman came to me and asked about the agenda for a meeting.
I said, “It looks like we’ve got at least one tough topic coming up.”
“Oh, goodie,” she said, “I just love a good fight!”
It was one of the most un-non-Christian things that I’ve ever heard in a church.
Sadly, there are people who like to fight, hit, hurt, beat, batter, bruise, bite, and butcher; betraying the darkness in their souls.
There are people who like to distance, divorce, and destroy.
Pride, control needs, lusts, idolatries, hatreds, and other deeply dark pathologies masquerading as arrogant and condescending self-righteousness often cause segregations, separations, and schisms.
Fortunately, Jesus has provided a path to restoring relationships in Matthew 18:15-17:
1. Try to work it out face to face.
2. If that doesn’t work, bring along a few fair and objective
folks who will tell the truth to both of you while insuring
neither of you is tempted to lie about the conversation
to others at a later date.
3. If that doesn’t work, try a committee, board, or bunch of
good folks to sort it all out.
4. If that doesn’t work, isolate and avoid them.
Unfortunately, while our Lord commands us to love and seek reconciliation with even the unlovable people in our lives, some folks are determined to remain irrational, irregular, irascible, and irreconcilable.
God has another plan for them: “Keep up your guard against anyone who is causing conflicts and enticing others with teachings contrary to what you have already learned. If there are people like that in your churches, stay away from them. These kinds of people are not truly serving our Lord Jesus…They have devoted their lives to satisfying their own appetites. With smooth talking and a well-rehearsed blessing, they lead a lot of unsuspecting people down the wrong path” (Romans 16:17-18).
In other words, some people playing out deeply dark pathologies with no desire for reconciliation must be identified, ignored, and isolated lest they infect the rest of the body of believers with their disease.
There’s no place for a rotten apple in a barrel of freshly picked ones.
While our Lord set the example for always inviting, welcoming, including, and loving, He also said there are evil ones who slip into churches like wolves in sheep’s clothing with no desire to be reconciled to Him which is exposed by their irrational, irregular, irascible, and irreconcilable behavior with the rest of His family; causing Him to conclude, “If someone is inhospitable to you or refuses to listen to your testimony, leave that house or town and shake the dust from your feet” (Matthew 10:14).
Allowing the irrational, irregular, irascible, and irreconcilable to infect a church with darkness brings a stern warning from our Lord: “If anyone is a cause of stumbling to one of these little ones who have faith in Me, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung round his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).
Jesus declares the sternest of warnings for people who are irretrievably irreconcilable: “If you forgive…, your heavenly Father will forgive you…But if you do not forgive…, neither will your Father forgive you” (Matthew 6:14-15).
Restored relationships reflect a restored relationship: “As you do it for them, you do if for Me” (see Matthew 25:31ff.).
When we are reconciled to Him, we are reconcilable with others.
A passion for reconciliation shows intimacy with Jesus.
It’s belief confirmed by behavior.
Remembering we must be reconcilable with everyone to prove reconciliation with our Lord, we will remain reconcilable with even the irrational, irregular, irascible, and irreconcilable; knowing, sometimes with some people, it’s better to talk to God about them than to talk to them about God.
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