Isn’t part of agreeing/disagreeing in love accepting the inborn tension in conflict? I pray neither for my success nor for you to change.
— Don Follis (@donfollis) September 6, 2013
Well, okay you say… Nice in theory…
“But what if I speak to you, in love, and you don’t change?”
As a wife once said to her husband, “Don’t tell me you’re sorry. CHANGE!”
How much change can we, should we expect? We are new creatures in Christ. The old is gone. The new has come. And yet – aargh! … — we have such conflict with each other. Often, sad to say, the most conflict we experience is with other Jesus followers. Frankly, it-ain’t-for-no-reason-at-all, friends, that there now are nearly 35,000 identifiable Christian denominations around the world. And yes indeed, I have thought of Jesus’ prayer: “Father, may they be one, even as you and I are one.” Some days I can only say, “Heavenly Father, I am so sorry.”
I guess we can only imagine how God might feel about all this. Who says we don’t need the utter mercy of God every single minute of every single day?
The apostle Paul in Philippians 4 exhorts some women in the church in Philippi who were experiencing conflict to get along. He says to them:
Let your gentleness be evident to all … New International Version
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone … English Standard Version
Let your forbearance be known … American Standard Version
We might put it this way, “Oh come on friends. Pleeaase! Give each other the benefit of the doubt.” But I ask you, “Will you give someone the gentle grace of kindness and empathy and long suffering if they do not change?” Asked differently and tightening the vice a bit, “What if they can’t change?”
In fact, isn’t that precisely where the tire hits the pavement? Are people welcome at God’s table if there is no change in behaviors we so want to see changed? At least change according to our definition of change, right?
I like how my friend Pastor Rich Nathan said it the other day in this tweet …
There is only 1 way to be safe as you discuss someone else’s sin.See yourself as a fellow sinner!Anything else will turn you into a Pharisee
— Rich Nathan (@RichNathan) September 4, 2013
One of the things that is so amazing about grace to me is that some days it seems to be taking such an amazingly doggone long time for me to experience the total freedom from sin for which I so long. And yet, friends, we stay at our post, pressing on, learning to encourage one another, walking daily in the light, even as some days we strongly agree and disagree in love. Nope, this is not the time for giving up. It’s time for holding on!