So yesterday's post came out of a overwhelming sense of frustration. As I have had time to dwell on things, I know that what I said certainly was valid. There is a huge problem with Christians not loving each other. But there are other issues at play - that are intensified by this issue - and that intensify this issue. I started thinking about my own life, and if there was anyone that I was having trouble loving. Yes, there were people that fit in that category. A couple of them are people who have hurt me and those close to me so much that I will probably always struggle with loving them. I catch myself getting angry at them - for past wrongs - and I have to go to God and ask Him to help me. Sometimes, something will cause actual angry and rage to flare up at those people. It is in those times that I understand just how poorly I know how to love. I have all the justifications in my head for why I am allowed to feel that way. But then I think about the fact that Jesus loved Judas, and I have to slink off to my shame corner.
Today, though, a different person popped up into my head. It is a very dear friend - someone who has been a huge positive influence on my life and ministry. But I have been very unloving in my heart towards him. It has even gotten bad enough that seeing his face on Facebook will get my blood pressure rising. I took a moment and thought, "What could have possibly gotten things to that point?" And it all came down to the fact that he did something - actually, more correctly DIDN'T do something I wanted him to do. I don't know if he even knew what he was supposed to do. As a result, it has gotten to be like a poison in our relationship. And now, there is a huge wall built up there.
So, I thought about my options. I could write him and his friendship off forever and just keep building the wall. That is pretty dumb. I could act like everything is fine both to him and to myself. That hasn't been working yet. Or I could go to him and talk to him. yikes. I don't want to do that. I don't want to go to him and talk - he intimidates me and I would be terrified of him rejecting my apology. But, the Bible says we are supposed to do just that. In Matthew 5 we are told that if we remember that our brother has something against us, we should pause our worship to fix things. This is part of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus flies in the face of human standards by setting His own standards. He had just talked about how the persecuted and poor and meek were the real winners. Now, He tells us, "Don't just go to the brother if YOU have something against HIM. Go to him even if HE has something against YOU." It was a foregone conclusion that we should go to them for our own pains, but He added to try to make peace with THEIR pains.
So I was already on shaky ground. James 5 talks about us confessing our sins to each other. The Lord's Prayer tells us that we have to forgive people. So I had to make things right - something I have begun trying to do. How it goes, I am not sure. But I have to obey and love my friend enough to try to make things right.
This is part of the problems that led to yesterday's post. We don't do things in Church. We don't go to each other and try to work out problems. We harbor them and let them fester and burn in our souls. Part of that is because communication is so bad - people don't know how to communicate at all - and part of it is because it is not modeled for people. When our church leaders do not go to people who they have wronged, or if they claim they have never wronged anyone, or if they won't go to people who have wronged them, then how are the members supposed to realize it is important? If the leadership is insulated and removed from the people, how can those members go to the leaders and express their own hurt? Love is missing - but so is communication, forgiveness, remorse, humility, and peacemaking.
It can paint a bleak picture, when we see how badly things are going. But we can make a change at least in our own lives. I am tired of seeing this in my own life. I want to fix things. I am tired of harboring stuff - I already battle being "an Eeyore" and being "cynical and sardonic." I don't need to contribute to that by keeping those poisons inside. I hope that you can say the same.