Cleaning Up Messes
Periodically I check who reads what on my blog, and when they stop by. Life is Messy – remains an oft-visited post. Maybe it’s the cartoon, or, the scary dust bunnies’ photo? Or, maybe some readers recognize:
· They’ve been hurt or have hurt others;
· Their circumstances are changing in ways they could not imagine and so, life is increasingly messy.
· Now, they are mad, or scared, and hurt.
I made so many messes in my life when I got mad at another person. Somehow, anger fired up my heart and idled my brain. In this state, fired up but idling, I can be quite adept at justifying why Biblical principles of peacemaking don’t apply in this situation. So, I can disregard the inherent worth of the person who is irritating me, and discount the value of the relationship that God had established, or permitted. Alas, in some quarrels, so convinced was I of my position, I rode roughshod over some folks, treating those I should have honored with scorn and distain.
Righteousness indignation isn’t much of a cleaning tool.
That's why it really hurts to see folks in the church consistently brandishing this tool. When quarrels break out, we struggle with our anger over other people’s shortcomings. Christ said this would happen and He said how to handle it: Go to your brother or sister – and don’t let the sun go down on your anger! (Matthew 5:23, 18:15; Ephesians 4:26) Anger left to stew over night eventually stinks, and Christians can do some stupid, cruel things to each other when we feed on our own frustrations!
Some of them can’t seem to get beyond disappointment, dissatisfaction, or disgust that a person with whom they work, worship or live has failed them. Confessing Christians blow up at others because they simply failed to do or be what we wanted them to do or be.
Yet Paul said, carry one another’s burdens — reprove gently the one caught in a trespass — lest I do something far worse. (Galatians 6:1-2) Yet, I may put burdens on them I excuse myself for not fully bearing. (Matthew 11:28-31) For example, if I am honest: I want my Christian friends and family, pastors and teachers to be perfect – mature, wise and winsome. And God help them if they mess up!
What kind of witness is it if we refuse to simply go to the Christian who wronged me, real or imagined, and ask if we can talk? Timing, of course, is everything – so, praying for the opportunity and courage is essential; God also might show us what is in our hearts and so prepare us for a better conversation than if we charged out the door on a mission. (Psalm 51:12-13)