Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Church, Conflict & Forgiveness

As I mentioned in a previous post, our church has had a bit of conflict. It has been difficult to understand, more difficult to really know the truth, and impossible to just ignore. About a month ago, things sort of came to a head. It involved elders resigning and a confession on Sunday morning. While we have tried to stay very "neutral" in the situation it is a battle to lay aside our own emotions and see all sides of the story. We all have faults. We all handle things differently. We truly care for each person involved. It left us asking "What are we supposed to do?"

The whole situation brought up many issues for contemplation. The main problem for me is - can there ever really be "irreconcilable differences"? I thought as Christians, we can agree to disagree, but we should try to be at peace with all men. So, saying a conflict cannot be resolved seems wrong. Aren't we called to be humble, quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry? Isn't one of the biggest messages of the Gospel, forgiveness? You may be sensing that although much has been accomplished in remedying the situation, there are still issues to be dealt with? Which keeps me asking "What am I supposed to do?"

I finally decided that as a Christian (and one who hopefully is living a grace-centered life) it is my job to forgive. The person, who in my opinion was most at fault, confessed before the church for his bad judgement and irresponsibility. That is what needed to happen. Whether it was forced by the elder board, if it was sincere, if it really was repentance - that is not my call. I can only take people at their word and when my brother or sister asks for forgiveness, I must forgive. It is the Lords job to judge the hearts of men, not mine.

I am relieved that this step has been taken. I think that it was a humbling thing for him to do. I feel like it is probably just one step on the path toward living a more Christ-like life; he will have many more. We all are being refined. Sometimes we are stubborn, sometimes we are ready for change, but all of us make mistakes, act like idiots and have to be called on it, eventually. We have to forgive, when forgiveness is requested. If we don't, we become self-righteous and bitter.

I do think that the sweet sister on the other side of this situation deserves more. She is wonderful, giving, and desires most of all to do what the Lord requires of her, even if it meant carrying the huge burden of being the catalyst for change. She was wronged and I am not sure how to make things right for her, but I do think that some of the interpersonal conflict that happened as a result of "bad judgement" still needs to be dealt with. Obviously, Sunday morning service is not the place for it. Through the whole situation she kept saying "The Lord is my Defense" and I truly believe that He will continue to defend her. I hope that these two can really be reconciled, but I am beginning to wonder if it is just another "irreconcilable difference". That disappoints me. 

2 comments:

  1. Beautifully said!

    Conflict within the church is difficult. I have (and am) experiencing that in my own church. I will pray for your church.

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  2. In regards to similar issues in our church, I find myself burdened to deep FRUSTRATION with those who are wading through the bitterness! I want to move on and live in the freedom of forgiveness, but am I becoming self-righteous and bitter towards the people stuck in taking up an offense for the parties involved?? I just pray that my heart can continue to love and forgive as I patiently walk with those still getting to the point of God's heart of forgiveness on these matters! 1Peter 2:1-3 says, "Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." I desire to know the Lord deeply! HE is my focus, and I pray He helps me guard my heart against all the negative items above (esp. that malice and slander in situations like this)!

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