Friday, May 8, 2015
Jesus Wouldn't/Didn't Quit and Run Away
Karen, my boss, and I were talking about people who
have quit and run away from the church over time.
She said, "Imagine where we would be if Jesus did that to us."
I led a demonstration against lots of bad stuff on Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania's public square back in 1973.
It began on Good Friday and ended at Easter dawn.
Priests, pastors, and rabbis joined us.
Most everyone was with us; because we were about peace with each other as witness to peace with God.
As I recall, no Islamofascistnutballs came.
Of course, there's always somebody who...
She was young and beautiful and I was young and...
Like Richard Berg's "flirty fishing" in Europe in the 60s and 70s, she, uh, came on to me; and then went about, uh, her business after, uh, capturing my attention.
She: "Do you believe in Jesus?"
Me: "Absolutely! He is our Lord and Savior!"
She: "Do you believe the Bible is God's authoritative word on all matters of faith and morality?"
Me: "Absolutely! It's our manual for life and eternity and how to follow Jesus!"
She: "Do you believe the only Bible having God's seal is the King James Version as scientifically true in all matters of...?"
Me: "Uh, what do you mean? I mean, uh, there are other translations and...."
She: "I knew it! You are a wolf in sheep's clothing and you are leading these people straight to hell. But I can save you right now. If you will confess your..."
I will never forget her.
Sooooooo beautiful and sooooooo...
She was my-way-or-the-highway...a total...
Wild horses dragging me by the tongue wouldn't get me in the...
I realized it did not matter how much we agreed with each other; for once she discovered divergence from her, uh, whatever, it was her responsibility/privilege/obsession to damn me.
So I never even got to first base with her.
Because I did not goosestep to her, uh, whatever, she quit on me and walked/ran away.
Lots of people in our country and our country's churches are like her.
It's like they're looking for that one thing, their one or two or how many irreconcilables on their litmus tests, to quit and run away from us.
Now go back to Karen's comment/concern above.
Now look at...
"If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."
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.
Blessings and Love!