Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How Do We Relate to Other Christians? How Should We?

This piece is more of a written sermon than a regular blog post. I need this just as much as anyone who reads this post.

Matthew 18:

I think we let things go between believers too often. We let issues fester amongst friends and fellow church members. We need to be more open with what an issue that may, if left to fester, would likely divide people. Rather than couching things in patronizing tones or glossing over issues, I think we need to do what the verses in Matthew say and, with love and through prayer, take our issues to the person we have the issue with. We need to forgive, but in order for us to grow, we need to be upfront with each other. Too often, Christians choose to bury their issues with one another and there continues to be an underlying issue that our enemy uses to divide friends and churches. 
This is just a hypothetical example, but hear me out. Away from church, fellow believers have a business issue that is causing strife, whether it be a business and customer conflict or an employee and employer conflict. Rather than concealing our thoughts and trying to tight rope on what we think the other person wants hear, we need to be more open so issues don't remain. We must always seek wise counsel before doing so, but letting a problem simmer just below the surface is unhealthy for all parties involved. I know that if a friend of mine has an issue with me, rather than just talking to others about it, I'd rather be hit square between the eyes with the issue they have with me. I don't like reading between the lines. If someone has an issue with me, I want to work on it. The issue should be brought out in the open between the two parties and then everything possible should be done to make sure there is no strife left in the relationship. I've seen friendships harmed and worse yet, whole churches harmed because people just couldn't be upfront and open with one another.
This could also apply to politcs. If we took our issues up with the source of them, I think we'd find much more satisfaction in achieving a satisfactory result. I, for one, am not afraid to call a state or national representative or Senator and bring the issues I have to someone who may be able to do something about them. 
So many times, we don't seek wise counsel on issues of great magnitude before we make the mistake of saying something of great consequence. I've been guilty of this many times. Even the Bible says this in Proverbs 12: 1The way of a fool [is] right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel [is] wise.
If we can't take wise counsel on a given issue, we need not be involved with what ever we are trying to do until we come to a place where we are willing to heed the counsel of those who've dealt with the issue or problem before. Rather than thinking we have the whole thing figured out because we've read some book(other than the Bible) or we've studied a lot, there is still no substitute for asking for help from those who've been there before. Pride may get in the way of us coming to the realization we need help, but we must not let that happen. Pray, seek wise counsel and then, and only then, step out by faith that what you are doing is what you should do. If it is biblical, we'll see our efforts blessed by God. 
There is no substitute for experience. I am always seeking to learn from people older than me. I also seek people with different backgrounds to learn from. If I am entering a new business, I ask the person who's done it for a long time. When I was new at my church, I sought out a few people that had been there for a long time. If I have an isssue that I don't know much about, I learn about if before diving in. I seek counsel. I ddin't always do this and I bear the scars from those stupid decisions. I think if people, myself included, would seek out each person's strong points and help lift those up, we'd see fewer conflicts in churches and between friends. 
Even marriages break up because people don't seek wise counsel and because the two parties can't be upfront with one another. As humans, we're no good at mind reading. We must be more upfront with one another. Rather than taking offense to someone bringing an issue to our attention, we should thank them for helping us get better. I've learned to yearn for bluntness. I pray more people find this trait for their lives. I'm not talking about insulting one anther. I'm talking about when someone sees an issue, whether of your own doing or not, and brings it to your attention, you step back and see the big picture. Your choice involves many more people than just yourself, no matter how insignificant you see that choice being. 
I think the root of all interpersonal conflicts boils down to two things. Pride (my biggest fault) and doing things out of a sense of duty instead of doing things out of a sense of godly love for one another. If we can't get past our own pride and humble ourselves, we'll have a hard time moving forward for God. Period. If we do things, whether they be at church, at home or in our public lives, with a sense of true Christian love and we do things out of a sense of duty, the task or ministry will falter and fail. It will grow stale and eventually wither and die on the vine. I know I've struggled with both of these issues. I pray and seek counsel to overcome both.
In closing, I think we need to be more upfront and honest. We need to kick our sense of personal pride to the curb and we must seek wise counsel from people (including those outside our normal spheres of influence). If I want to learn to weld, I'm going to go find a welder to teach me. I'm not going to go to a restaurant owner asking how to weld and so on. Lastly, let's put the biblical princples on how to resolve conflict and seek counsel into practice. Our churches and our interpersonal relationships will be the better for it.
I'd love to open this up for discussion. Respond below and let's start the conversation.

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