Hunters Who Never Hunt

IMG_4681It’s hunting season across the nation. Each morning thousands of people wake up before dawn and get into their vehicles or walk out to their desired location and listen and watch as the sun rises. This process usually begins with a gathering of tools and weapons needed for the hunt. If the hunt is for the day or for a week much preparation is needed before the day of the hunt.

Many hunters spend hours and hours hunting, not for game, but for areas where the game are. They do research and read books and peruse articles that may give them an edge on the hunt that they have chosen. They spend countless dollars on gadgets and gizmos they see as needed to reach their prize. They look at maps and drive miles upon miles to get to their hunting grounds.

Then there’s the hunt. The hunter is properly camouflaged and adequately still and quiet. They pick a place where they can find cover but still see well enough to find their quarry. Then they wait. They may make game calls with their gadgets if they deem necessary, but more important than gadgets is that they are in the right place at the right time, so they wait.

Hours and hours have gone into this one morning. The sun is rising. The air is calm and crisp. Anticipation and adrenaline runs high.

There’s the prize.

Now the harvest.

God be praised for the bounty of his creation.

What if they never went out?

What if week after week they talked about hunting. They paid for subscriptions to the best hunting magazines and read them cover to cover. They bought all the gadgets and gizmos and practiced them to perfection in the comfort of their homes (or the car if their wife deems necessary). They have the right gear and weapons.

What if they even got together at the local shop to talk about their latest gadget. They showed off their best camo. They talked about their favorite hunting dog.

What if they did all this but never went out and hunted.

Would they be hunters?

Week after week people flock to churches to sing praises to their God. They read their bibles and partake of the Lord’s Supper. They teach classes to people of all ages on how to know their bible and properly practice the traditions of their faith.

Many of these people know the bible forward and backwards. They can quote book chapter and verse with ease. They can tell you all about Jesus. They are good people and look like they have it all together.

Week after week they read the words written in black and white, and week after week they fail to put those words into practice.

Does that make them Christians? Is your knowledge of the bible what makes you a follower of Jesus? Is it not, rather, the way you live your life?

We call ourselves Christians, but how well are we evangelizing the world around us? Jesus seemed to make that a priority for his followers.

We call ourselves Christians, but we look like the world on every day but Sunday. Isn’t that contrary to what we are called to in the bible?

It’s time to stop pretending and start participating. You have been called to be fishers of men. You are called to hunt for the lost and rescue them from the wages of sin. It’s time to stop filling your buckets with preparation and start using your tools for the work you were called to do.

Join with me as we work together to do more than learn about Jesus. Join with me as we tell the world about him.


The Politics of Jesus: His Real Message

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I’m writing this on Election Week. All over the country people will be flocking to the polls to vote for the person they think will best run their country, state, and county. It is a grand privilege and right of every American to exercise the freedom to vote. I hope you did.

Thinking about elections, however, makes me think about Jesus.

What did He preach? Many people think that Jesus went around merely preaching that people should do good and doing good himself. When people think about Jesus they regard him as a nice man who taught many good philosophies on how to live life to the fullest. They think of all the miracles he did and are amazed at the power.

Many people think Jesus went around preaching that people should come to him. I mean, isn’t that what most churches are preaching these days? People should turn to Jesus. It’s almost like we think he was campaigning for three years. Vote for Jesus!

Look at the central event of his life – his crucifixion. Why was he crucified? Would people kill someone for doing good and being nice? Would people put someone on trial for obvious miracles? Would people kill a man preaching about philosophies of peace and unity and “love your enemy”?

No. Jesus wasn’t crucified for any of these things.

Perhaps Jesus was preaching a message of salvation to everyone that was different from the religions of the world? Maybe he was killed because of the religious implications of the messages he taught. No, this is not the case, either.

Jesus had one central sermon in his ministry, and it was the same message as his cousin, John.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Mark 1:15)

Jesus was crucified because he was preaching a kingdom that was different than any other kingdom of the day. Indeed, it is different than any kingdom that exists today.

The Jewish leaders didn’t like it because it presented a different role for them. In this kingdom they didn’t have the power to manipulate and control the lower people. In this kingdom the people truly had freedom. In this kingdom, religion wasn’t as important as they had made it out to be. Their presuppositions on how a person had to live in order to serve God were shattered.

The Roman leaders didn’t like this kingdom either. Sure, this was a peaceful movement, but the Caesar was the king of the known world. How dare they claim another king and claim allegiance to another kingdom. That was treason!

Over and over Jesus preached this message of the kingdom. Then, when he was crucified, Pilate had his title posted over his head on the cross: “King of the Jews”.

For centuries people have taught about this kingdom, but many get it wrong. Many people are waiting for the kingdom to be established when Jesus comes back and reigns on the earth for a thousand years. This is very similar to what the Jews were looking for in their messiah. However, Jesus tried to correct them over and over.

At one time someone asked Jesus where the kingdom will be, and Jesus taught that it wasn’t a physical kingdom. Rather, it was among and within the people who were the citizens. This was a kingdom with no borders.

Another time Jesus urged the people to watch for the kingdom because it would come before those who were there listening to Jesus would die. So, either the kingdom is here, or there are some really old people still living somewhere on the planet.

In Colossians 1, Paul reminds them that they have already been brought into the kingdom.

So, if you’ve been washed by the blood of the lamb, then you are no longer a citizen of the country you live in. Your primary residence is in the kingdom of heaven. But that residency starts now. You are called to live as that citizen with God as your King.

You are promised the kingdom as your inheritance. You are princes and princesses with Jesus of the kingdom. Jesus is your brother, and God is your Father.

As you plan and prepare for your time as a citizen of whatever country you live in, remember that it is a tertiary residency. Your primary allegiance is to the Father, your King. How you live here and now should reflect that.

May you live as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, and may your life reflect that citizenship. Blessings to you, the citizens of God’s kingdom.


An Immovable Object Meets an Unstoppable Force

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Change is inevitable. If you look around you’ll see change everywhere. People change as their bodies grow and they age. Nature changes from day to day due to weather and usage. Minds change as they see a new way that makes more sense. Churches change as they encounter their culture in a new and relevant way. The Word of God doesn’t change, but people constantly change.

Except when they don’t.

Sometimes people look like they are changing, but on the inside they are just putting on a false show. They are doing what is necessary to manipulate the reactions of others around them. They say they want to change, but in reality change is too difficult or scary for them to actually do what is necessary to change. Perhaps they want to put on a show so that others won’t see the selfishness that looms just behind their facade. This is not change. This is putting on a mask in order to stay entrenched in that which makes you comfortable.

Maybe you’re there. Maybe you say you want to change – maybe you really do want to change – but the experience of doing so seems impossible. Maybe you only want to change because you want to see different results in someone else. Maybe you only want to change because you want to get something extra that you see others get. These motivations won’t grant you the success you secretly desire. They will be seen by those you seek to impress as manipulation and covetousness and hypocrisy.

So how do we actually change? We have to want with a different motivation.

I cannot create true change within myself as long as the desires within me are selfish. That word, selfish, defines a certain way of thinking that will only provide temporary strength needed to make change. To truly change, a person must look for strength beyond the superficiality of selfishness. To truly change a person must love.

Love is not self seeking (1 Corinthians 13:5).

When you begin to love then what you desire truly begins to melt away. When you love God, you strive for what He desires in you. You change not because of the benefit to you but out of love for Him.

When you love others you stop doing things to manipulate and coerce your own way. You begin to see and seek the way of others so that you can help them and serve them in whatever capacity needed. This is not for accolades. This is because you love them and have died to self.

When you love God and love others you will begin to do your best in all things. Laziness melts away for there is always something to be done for someone. You find yourself finally doing all the things you’ve been putting off for procrastination is selfishness. You become a model worker, spouse, parent, child.

When you learn the way of love you finally begin the journey of the life you were meant for. You begin to find satisfaction within yourself that cannot be taken away. Even when others chastise you, they are not able to tear you down for you are on a journey not guided by selfishness but by love…even for them.

This way of love mends all relationships: marriages, workplaces, families, churches.

When we find the way of love we will change. For some it will happen almost overnight. For others it may take a while. But in every case the people around will begin to notice that we’ve changed. We no longer look like our old self (that was supposed to be crucified when we came to Jesus). Now we begin to look more and more like Jesus to the world around us.

May you find change, and may the change be motivated by love as you grow into the image of Jesus.


Book Review: “Bethlehem Road” by Michael Whitworth

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As a preacher I am expected to spend time in the Word to know the text. I’m expected to look at other sources to find out what the text is truly saying, and I’m expected to be able to take that text and show my listeners what they need to learn from that text. This is often a daunting task filled with many hours reading boring books.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the bible is NOT boring, but often the commentaries trying to explain what the bible is saying are as dry as the desert.

I was asked by Michael Whitworth if I would read his commentary on the book of Ruth (in the Old Testament of the Bible). It seemed like such an honor at first, but the more I thought of it the more I regretted accepting his request. You see, I don’t read commentaries for fun. I don’t read them for personal devotions. I read them because I need to.

So, when Michael sent me his book I began to read. Remember, I had all these negative assumptions about how this endeavor would turn out.

I dove in quickly to the introduction and found that Michael wasn’t just giving a list of facts about this book. Sure, there are countless facts to be derived from the pages of “Bethlehem Road”, but this book didn’t read like a commentary listing facts and references. I quickly found myself eagerly turning each page to see what jewels I could find on the next.

This is NOT a traditional commentary. I would read this book for enjoyment. I would read it for my personal devotions. I recommend this book to everyone, and here’s why: this book is personal.

Michael begins by relating the story of the loss of his father and the dark places that took him to in the grieving process. Then he begins to tell the tale of Ruth and Naomi and show how their loss sets the stage for the main character of this book to do His work. That’s right, the main character of Ruth is not Ruth – it’s God.

Through page after page the reader is taken on a journey through this time of Israel’s history. You feel like you are there, in Israel, with the characters. You can see the struggle and feel the pain. Then, you are invited to celebrate the unfathomable foresight and workings of the merciful, loving God.

If you are dealing with loss and sadness, then may I recommend a commentary to you? Naomi knows how you feel. God does too.

Are you struggling to see that God is really working in the lives of those who love Him? Then it’s time to look at Ruth again, and I recommend you do it with your bible in one hand and “Bethlehem Road” in the other.

Have you thought the God of the Old Testament was a mean-spirited, vengeful deity? Then I hope you can see through this commentary that He was not and has never been that way. He does not change like shifting shadows.

I am so grateful that Michael has taken on the challenge of writing a commentary that breaks the commentary mold. It was truly refreshing to see this book come to life.

It is my honor to recommend to you “Bethlehem Road” by Michael Whitworth. Look for it soon online and ask for it where books are sold.


Ten Phrases that Stunt Church Growth

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A healthy church is a church that is actively trying to reach out into their community and share the gospel with the world around them. Most churches say they want to grow, but are they really in the mindset to facilitate that growth?

Our words have huge implications on our actions for our words reflect the attitudes that inspire what we do. If we speak negatively it is because we are thinking negatively. Positive words come from a heart with positive motivations. A positive person is much more likely to succeed at any venture than a negative one.

As we seek to help the church grow we must remember that our words have bearing on our success. I’ve compiled a list of ten phrases that hurt a church’s ability to grow. These phrases can be said by the members, but they are especially harmful if the leadership begins to reflect these things.

#10 We don’t want to be like THEM
The head of the church should be Jesus. The guide for the church should be the scriptures. If we are scared to follow the scriptures because of it making us look like another group of Christians then that will keep us from following the truth. Worse yet, we have freedom in Christ. If we are unwilling to exercise our freedom out of fear of being associated with another denomination then that shows our lack of unity within the body of Christ. New people who see this are repelled at our lack of vision and lack of love for those who are our brothers and sisters.

Instead of allowing this phrase to control our thinking we need to follow the guidance of the Spirit. As we follow His lead, He will guide the church to follow the desires of Jesus. When that happens growth is inevitable for it is the will of Christ that everyone is reached for the sake of the gospel.

#9 Who are all these new people?
This phrase may seem counter-intuitive. I mean, if you’re having new people then aren’t you growing? Yes, a church that has new people is growing, but if the established membership isn’t taking the time to invest in relationships with these new people then they will soon be gone. People leave the church for a myriad of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that they don’t belong – there’s no way for them to get plugged in.

In our desire to grow we must close the proverbial back door. If our core group isn’t actively engaging our new members and visitors beyond just the superficial “Hey, my name is…” on Sunday morning then we are maintaining a clique.

Instead of asking who these new people are, why not go meet them? Invite them to lunch. Invite them to your house. Spend more than ten minutes visiting with them. Then see how they blossom as members.

#8 THEY tried this and it didn’t work out
It’s very common for churches to look at programming and ideas that other congregations or groups have tried. In the process of doing that we often see not just the success stories but the things that failed as well. This doesn’t mean that the program or idea won’t work with your church; it just means that it didn’t work for them. By the nature of the fact that you have different people than “they” do you will have a different outcome.

So much of our endeavors have to begin with faith. Do we believe that this is the direction God is leading us? If so, then He will help us succeed. If it is not then it will fail.

Failure doesn’t have to be a problem either. A church that is actively trying new things to reach out to the community is showing that they care for the community. If an idea fails it’s OK. The community still sees that the church is trying. What really matters is what we do with that failure. If we use it to make excuses to not try something new then we have truly failed. If we use it to start again by learning from our mistakes then the failure is actually a success.

#7 I wish SOMEONE would do ______
Fill in the blank. There are so many things to do. If you look around I’m sure you’ll see opportunities to serve, opportunities for outreach, and opportunities to help others grow. Each of these opportunities is a gift that has been given to you. God has created YOU with a vision for those needs.

When we look to someone else to fill the needs that God has shown us then we have effectively shut down God’s plan for that vision. If the people within a church are looking to the preacher or the leadership to do everything then they are crippling the potential for the church to be an active, living organism.

The apostle, Paul, wrote several times about the church being a body, and each part has a job to do. You have a purpose. There are things, needs, that only you will see. If you don’t do those things – if you don’t meet those needs – then they will probably be forgotten and never accomplished. Don’t pass the buck. Don’t procrastinate hoping someone else will do it. When the whole church is working together in a myriad of purposes and services then there is health as all the needs are being met. That is a church that will grow because everyone has a part to play. That church will grow numerically, but even more importantly, it will grow spiritually as it begins to look like the bride of the greatest servant who ever lived, Jesus.

#6 I’m not sure they’re dependable enough
As a church grows the new members will inevitably want to get involved. This is healthy and vital for the church to function as a church. It is important for those who have been around for a long time to get to know the new people. It is also important for those new people to be plugged in where they are needed and where their gifts are.

When a new person comes in it can be an awkward transitionary time within the church. The leadership wants to protect the flock and make sure it gets fed, and the new people want to get involved.

One of the greatest things anyone ever did for me was to go out on a limb and give me a responsibility that I had never taken on before. That responsibility took me out of the pew as a consumer and brought me into a ministry opportunity. I was in a sink or swim situation. The church that did that showed great faith in me. It was the beginning of my journey into ministry.

We need to be people of love, and love hopes for the best in other people. As we grow we must be willing to step out on that limb and give new people responsibility. We need to be empowering people to grow into leaders within the church. We need to have faith in the people around us.

I fail jesus daily, but he still calls me to be a minister of his gospel. I should treat others with that kind of faith in them. When I refuse to extend that faith in them I prove to them that I don’t truly love them, and that cripples a church.

#5 There’s no one to take our place
This phrase goes hand in hand with the last one and even the next one. If we don’t see the potential in others then we will not begin to shift the power and responsibility we’ve been given to the next generation of leaders. This cripples a church’s ability to move forward with fresh vision and relevant leadership.

If a leader at any level – teacher, maid, secretary, elder, deacon, preacher, volunteer, etc… – sees the potential for a vacuum if they were to quit, then they need to be actively training others to take their place. No one person needs to be irreplaceable in the church. It is not our job to make it so that the church couldn’t function without us. What we should all be doing is bringing people alongside us who see what we do and grow into being the next person to do our job. This is apprenticeship.

This requires us to have faith in others. It requires that invest into the lives of others. It requires us to not be thirsty for power or influence. Remember, you’re not the savior of your church, Jesus is.

#4 I’m tired…or…I’ve done my time
It you don’t have faith in other people, and you can’t see any potential for someone to take your place, then you probably feel tired. If you’ve taught Sunday school for twenty years you probably feel tired. But if the next generation is going to be trained to step in and give you relief then, first, you need to do one more thing – train.

We are all called to work hard as children of God to serve one another in love, but if you’re 29 or 99, and you still have breath and strength, you’re not finished with the work God has given you to do. This is why we look forward with great anticipation to the rest that God offers us in heaven. But we must not live as though we are already there. I’ve heard it said that some people are “so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good”.

If you’re tired, hang in there. As you train people to take your place you’ll have a lighter load. One day you may even get to take a break, but don’t make it permanent. The church needs your talents.

Oh, and if you’re complaining that you’re tired and someone offers to take your place then give it to them. Church is not about holding on to power and authority. It’s not about position and politics. God is constantly raising up new generations of people to carry the torch that those who have come before have done so well to carry.

#3 We’ve always done it this way
Ok, first of all, no you haven’t. Everything was new at some point in time. So let’s be honest with this statement.

Second of all it is OK to like what we are doing. When what we are doing is not effective in reaching the lost for Jesus then what we are doing is NOT OK.

As new people come in to a church they are going to be trying to figure out what the unspoken traditions are of that church. For many of these new people these traditions will make no sense whatsoever. We need to be honest enough to recognize that traditions are just that – traditions. They’re not scriptural mandates.

A tradition is only good as long as it is effective. Making you feel good is not the standard to which effectiveness is measured.

Are the people growing spiritually? Is the church growing numerically? Are people being pointed to Jesus? Do the people love one another? If the answers to these questions is “yes” then great, but if they’re “no” then something has to change. Please, do not hijack the growth of the church by requiring it to never change. As the culture changes so do the ways the church needs to function in order to be able to speak to that culture. The message has to stay the same – the gospel never changes – but the methods need to be constantly evaluated for a church to continue to grow.

#2 We’ve never done that before
This phrase is similar to the last one, but it doesn’t just call out change of current traditions, it calls out new additions to programming or ideas – new traditions.

Jesus calls us to have faith. He also sent us His Spirit to be our guide. The Spirit cannot be put in a box or controlled. He guides the church as He sees need. We must be willing to try new things as the Spirit leads.

We also must remember that trying new things leads to new successes and failures. If the failures are learned from then they are successes as well. As long as the new thing doesn’t take the church away from the headship of Christ and the authority of His word then there is freedom to try new things.

A church that never tries new things is a church that is slipping further and further away from its ability to connect to people in the world today. Change is inevitable. If we don’t embrace it then the change that will eventually happen is the closing of our church doors.

#1 I’m afraid…
I saved this one for last because it is the summation of pretty much every other phrase in this list. If you think about it every other phrase is said because there is a fear of the unknown.

Jesus said multiple times, “don’t be afraid; just believe.” “Oh you of little faith, why are you so afraid?” He seems to put faith and fear as opposites of one another.

We claim to believe that God works in our lives daily. Romans 8:28 says he is working to make all things good – even our mistakes and failures. Do we believe it? If we do then we don’t have to be afraid. If we believe it then we can move forward into an unknown future with confidence that God will guide us and help us when we fail. If we have faith in Him then we remember that it is His church and not ours.

If you are functioning in fear, and you recognize that, then you may not be the best person to be in a leadership position at this time. Being careful is good, but being afraid of what may come is bad. A negative person speaking out of fear can bring the momentum of the church to a screeching halt.

Maybe you’re in a leadership role, and you’re afraid of what might come. You must be super-careful with your words. Use that fear to be thorough, but don’t allow that fear to be verbalized. Your words might catch on like wildfire and create fear in others. Remember, fear and faith are opposites.

Conclusion
Having worked in many churches over the years I’ve heard these phrases many times. This is not an exhaustive explanation of why each of these is detrimental to the church. It is just a taste. Most of you, however, can see without much effort why each of these ways of thinking is harmful.

Sure, there are dangers in the future. I absolutely believe that not everyone is trustworthy, but I want to find out who is and who is not by trusting them and allowing them to prove or disprove themselves outside my assumptions. I know we can’t do everything, and I know that some things aren’t healthy for the church, but if a church functions with an inward-focused, fear-driven mindset then it will cripple itself before it even has a chance.

I’m glad to see the church where I serve growing. Many of you are in growing churches, but I want us to be ever-mindful of just how easy it is for our minds to slip into places that will cause us to stunt the growth of the church.

Maybe you’ve thought of other phrases that show a crippling mindset in the church. Feel free to share them in the comments below. Maybe you disagree. That’s alright by me. These are just phrases I’ve heard in many places that are said by people who are unintentionally hurting the potential for growth in those places.

May the church that belongs to Jesus grow as people learn to love Him and love one another. May the church grow as it seeks new ways to engage individuals and communities. May the church grow as the faith of its members increases. And may we all grow into the image of Jesus as the Holy Spirit transforms us from the inside out.


Any ole excuse will do…

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In Luke 14, Jesus tells an odd little story.  It’s also mentioned in Matthew 22.

In this story, a rich man holds a great banquet, not unlike a party of today, and he invites all his friends and relatives and coworkers and other influential people, but one-by-one they all make excuses as to why they can’t come.  This hurts the master, and frustrates him too, so he orders the servants to go out and drag in all the poor and oppressed people off the streets of his town.  After they do all that, he has them go out into the countryside and get all those people too so that the party would be a full success.

Jesus said this is like the kingdom of heaven, and I believe it.

First of all, the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are terms that are interchangeable for the same concept.  This is the rule or reign of God in our lives here on earth that causes us to be citizens of heaven.  Like the song says, “This world is not my home…”

We then, as Christians, are citizens of heaven, and you know we are citizens when you see the reign of God in our lives.  However, there are many people today who are just like these townsfolk in Luke 14.

These people make excuse after excuse as to why they shouldn’t attend the banquet.  One has some new oxen and needs to try them out.  One just bought a field and needs to go inspect it.  One just got married.

People today make similar excuses when faced with the decision of whether or not to follow God’s guidance in their life.  I see it all the time.  Someone has an opportunity to serve in some capacity to help others, but they are tired or have a party to go to.  Someone has an opportunity to tell someone else about Jesus, but they just aren’t gifted in that way – let someone else do it.  Someone has an opportunity to be at church with the rest of the kingdom of God, but it’s too early or too dull or too whatever.

As Christians, we are called to live as Children of God.  We are expected to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, but this kingdom is not a democracy.  It is a totalitarian dictatorship with God as supreme ruler.  The difference here that makes it attractive, however, is that the citizens get pardon after pardon because of the King’s Son.  The citizens are treated with respect and love.  The citizens were created by the King, and the King knows how each citizen should live to have the best life possible – eternal life.

So what kind of citizen are you?  Do you make excuse after excuse as to why you don’t need to do more than attend church every now and again?  Or are you the kind of citizen who follows God and allows Him to reign in your life?

I think that you’ll find the latter option to be the most fulfilling, rewarding existence possible.  Just today I heard someone say that you’ll never find happiness through self seeking.  It seems that it would work out great to please yourself in order to be happy, but it actually works quite the opposite.

So seek God and His reign in your life, and stop making excuses about it.  Then, get to the banquet – we have one every Sunday (we call it communion).


Killing Churches Daily

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There is one thing that tears up churches more than any other thing. In fact this may be the only reason churches split. What is it? It is a lack of conflict resolution skills.

If you are around people for very long then there will come a time when you will disagree with them. They may say or do something you do not like. They may NOT say or do something, and you might think they should. Maybe you think they should have listened to your advice or come to you for help but they didn’t. Now you’re upset.

Why? We usually get upset out of an elevated sense of self-worth. We see our ideas, actions, motives, etc. as being more pure or better than someone around us.

This is not love. This is pride. Pride is the opposite of love because pride has to do with selfishness, and love is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13).

So, now you’re upset, and what do you do? You let it simmer inside. You think of all the stupid reasons that other imbecile should have done or said or not done whatever it is that you’re upset about. Then you find another friend and talk with them about this issue. Your friend agrees with you, and now they’re upset with this individual. By the way, that’s gossip and slander (2 Cor. 12:20). Then the rumor-mill starts, and before you know it there is a whole army of people looking for blood from this individual.

Their initial action may or may not have been wrong, but the subsequent actions are sinful and devastating to the church that belongs to Christ.

So what do we do? Jesus tells us what to do if someone sins against us:

Matthew 18:15-17
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Note that this isn’t them offending us. We can be offended, but if they haven’t sinned against us, then we need to check our pride. If we are holding a grudge based on something we are offended by, then we need to drop it and love our brother or sister.

But what if we sinned against them or even cause some strife against them and they aren’t mature enough to come to us first? Jesus addresses that too:

Matthew 5:23-24
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Notice that Jesus wants us to be about the ministry of reconciliation before we are able to come to him in worship.

If we are holding grudges against our brothers and sisters in Christ that isn’t love. We need to repent because we don’t love God if we aren’t loving our brothers and sisters (1 John 4:20-21).

So, let’s be people who practice the art of conflict resolution in love. Let’s keep our anger and pride in check. You are God’s gift to the church but you don’t have to remind the church of it. You are smart and have great ideas, but so do others. You may think a person should do something, but they’ll never know until you tell them in love. You may not like the actions of another, but you cannot control them – you can only control yourself and your reaction to them. Remember that you are all equal in God’s sight and equally loved by Him.

If we can remember that our love for them is more important than our need to be right then we will be able to get along just fine.

Jesus said the world will know that He is the messiah by our love for one another and our unity with one another (John 13, 17). Let’s be a shining example of that to the world around us.


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