“It is preferable to separate rather than patch up our differences.” That conviction guided my upbringing and soured many relationships. When I became a Christian, I hoped never again to suffer broken relationships because of “differences.”
So, discovering that squabbles happened among believers devastated me; realizing that *I* had a bone to pick with some Christians blew my mind. I had walked away from many people with nary a backward glance — but leaving the relationships that Christ was forming was excruciating. Somehow, every time I tried to explain why I would no longer be speaking to so-and-so, I could hear the Lord clear His throat. The longer I persisted in avoiding a person, the more he or she came to mind, especially during the Lord’s Supper. My excuses were never sufficient “justification.”
Okay, Lord. What do You want?
“Barbara, when you are angry with your sister, you shall be guilty before the court; and when you say to your sister, 'Raca,' you shall be guilty before the supreme court; and when you say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” (Matt 5:22 )
“Oh no, Lord — I didn’t mean she was a fool — just misguided.”
"Barbara, if therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your sister has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your sister, and then come and present your offering.” (Matt 5:23-25)
“But, Lord, she is wrong about _______!”
"Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with her on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.” (Matt 5:23-25)
“Now, Lord, she started it!”
“Barbara, it takes two to quarrel. “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?” (James 4:1-3)
“Uh . . . I just want to avoid any further arguments.”
"Barbara, if you remember that your sister has something against you — real or imagined — leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your sister, and then come and present your offering.” (Matt 5:23-25) She who separates herself seeks her own desire. She quarrels against all sound wisdom. (Proverbs 18:1)
“Lord . . .”
“My dear determined daughter, a fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing her own mind.” (Prov. 18:1-2)
“Well, what if . . . ?”
“Barbara, refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. As my bond-servant, child, do not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” (2 Tim 2:23-26)
“But, Lord — isn’t that instruction just for ministers?”
“Barbara, if any man is in Christ, (she) is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled you to Himself through Christ, and gave you the ministry of reconciliation, . . . God through Me was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to you the word of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
“My child you are an ambassador for Me; . . . ”
“The ministry of reconciliation — that means settling *differences, Lord. And some of those differences maybe mine!”
An ambassador follows orders, trusting his sovereign to act. My instructions are make it right when quarrels break-out in the Body that Christ is building. My instructions, like to any ambassador are to die to a personal point of view.
So, I have gone to sisters in Christ and asked forgiveness for *my* part in causing any separation between us. I went with Christ’s words in my ears:
"Barbara, if you remember that your sister has something against you — real or imagined — go; first be reconciled to your sister! (Matt 5:23-25) “She who separates herself seeks her own desire. She quarrels against all sound wisdom.” (Proverbs 18:1) Let me handle the next step.”
Lord, I believe -- Help thou my unbelief and help me to take that first step.