Sometimes you just have to dig another well.

March 6, 2007 at 7:21 am 3 comments

Yesterday we began to explore what a follower of Jesus is to do when they find that an individual or individuals who claim to follow Jesus are caught in a sin.  The sin need not be moral or ethical, it may be unforgiveness, an unwillingness to handle a situation that is their responsibility to deal with or it may be an attitude that falls short of righteousness.  Sin is not hierarchical.  Immorality and unforgiveness/passive forgiveness is judged the same.

I am attempting to speak in as general terms as I can, although others who have written comments to my posts have spoken of specific situations.  My goal is to teach truth in hopes of encouraging relationships in the Family to be more in line with what Jesus and Paul were teaching.

Yesterday I took us to Galatians 6 and Matthew 18.  In both places we are told to go to the offending person or persons and confront them privately.  If they listen and repent, great-glory to God! If they refuse to acknowledge their sin, then we are to return with others who share the same conviction, and confront again.  If they continue to be unrepentant or will not confess then you move to the third step and go to the church. 

My understanding of “telling it to the church” means taking the offense to the leadership of the church for their counsel and direction, though it could also mean to tell the entire Family about the sin and the person or persons refusal to repent. 

If the leadership hears what you have to say and are in agreement and if the person or persons are still unwilling to repent then they are to be treated as pagan, an infidel etc.

Two thoughts: first, what do you do if the people you are concerned about are the leaders of your church and they will not listen or repent?  If possible take your complaint to other spiritual leadership in the community or denomination and ask for a hearing there.  Perhaps a Family meeting could be called and the situation aired in that setting.  There is no room for gossip here or for breaking up into little groups and lobbing grenades at whomever it is.  We must go to them until there is no more room for talk.

Then treat them as an infidel.

So, secondly, what is an infidel or a pagan?  In more modern language we would refer to them as an unbeliever or one who is not a follower of Jesus.  We are to treat those who will not repent the same way we treat unbelievers. 

Most of the time when I hear this verse taught it comes out like this: “we are to have nothing to do with them.” We are to cast them out and ignore them.

But is that how we are to treat unbelievers?   O course not, we are to love them, serve them, treat them with the utmost respect and kindness in order to win them.  Do we hang with them, go to the places they go?  Not generally but when we are around them we are to treat them as we would want to be treated.  If we are to treat the unrepentant brother or unrepentant sisters the way we treat an unbeliever then we must treat them with kindness not with bitterness and gossip.

One last picture.  Genesis 26 tells the story of a water rights conflict between Issac and the people who lived around him.  Issac had gotten very wealthy and powerful and the people around him were jealous.  So every time he would dig a new well or reclaim a well his father had dug, the neighbors would fill it in.  Issac would re-dig it and they would fill it up again.  So Issac moves away and digs a new well and the same thing happens.  It is so frustrating to him that he even gives names to the wells, names like “Argument” and “Opposition”.  Read the rest of it in Genesis 26:1-22.

Here is the picture that I think is found in this story.  You try and try to make peace, you bring options for how the situation might be resolved, you offer to talk or to be part of a mediation process or whatever.  You dig a well and the other person or group just throws dirt on your idea, they fill up the well you have dug. 

Often the way they fill it up is by bringing up things from your past or things they think you are doing wrong, as a means of deflection. Sometimes they quote Scripture or suggest a prayer meeting, both good things to do but the hole you have dug is getting filled up without the issue being resolved and restoration achieved.

So you try again and they still refuse to even entertain the ideas or suggestions you bring for potential restoration of the relationship-they fill up that well too. 

Finally there is nothing left to do but move away from them and look for water elsewhere.  Like Issac you have to move on.  Issac tried very hard to make it work but to no avail and finally he found a place where he could dig a well and find peace.  There he named the well “Room enough”.

Try as we might in the Family we cannot always see eye to eye.  We try to be open and honest, careful and respectful, digging or cleaning out well after well but the effort is not reciprocated.  When you have tried everything you can think of and still the relationship remains broken, sometimes you just have to move where there is “room enough” and dig a new well. 

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Entry filed under: Christianity, Church, Faith, Friendship, Jesus, Thoughts.

If another Christian is overcome by some sin… Thoughts that make me go “hmmm”.

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. TraciA  |  March 7, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Wow! Brandon! Wow! Thank you for being the passionate warrior that you are. Your sons are lucky to have your example. I don’t think I had thought about all those men in the Bible quite the way you made me see them, in regards to justice and grace combined.
    And I think we can reconcile mercy and justice like you said by mirroring Him.

  • 2. Heretic  |  March 7, 2007 at 7:48 am

    Brandon-
    Enjoyed your comment. My sentiments exactly. God is just as much just as He is love. He is angry with the wicked everyday, and they would be consumed if not for His mercy.

    But we (as men) can’t reconcile those two very distinct parts of God’s character.

  • 3. Brandon  |  March 6, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Humility and grace are always the right answer but they are not always the same in each situation. The only way we can know what humility and grace should look like at each present moment is to be broken and lifeless before God. Only at that place can the flesh, world, and satan be removed so we can hear the gentle whisper of our father to guide us through a moment by moment following of Christ.

    It is very peculiar to me that when a Christian talks about humility and grace, we immediately go to turning the other cheek, or let it be, God will deal with it, but if you look at the life of Christ, turning the other cheek is only part of the story. We serve a passionate God, one of war and love; he gave us our emotions, he stirs our heart with beauty and the anger of injustice.

    One of King David’s most longed after prayers was to have the heart of God and God gave David’s example as “a man after his own heart.” A man of war, a man of passion and grief; he fought strongly and gave mercy freely, he danced wildly without regard for himself and felt anger at the injustice to the weak. He spent the majority of his time before God beseeching Him to guide, love, and fill him.

    If you read the life of Christ; he was a passionate man with a great presence; he made most feel uncomfortable. When the leaders of the nation of Israel tried to discredit or destroy him, He fought and was not worried about being “nice.” When the prostitute came and washed his feet with her tears and dryed them with her hair, he was gentle and full of grace. He fed the five thousand, and chastised his friends for having no faith. He was a gentle hand to the beaten, a soothing touch to the broken, and a rock that the rebelious broke themselves against. He was full of poetry and beauty with a desire for fellowship but also a terrifying force as he cleaned out his Father’s house. At the garden before his death, he was hurt deeply by his friends and wept, he bled from fear and pain. Then some of his final words were to forgive and bless.

    If you take a look at Paul, the sheer force of commitment, the depth of love. He gave up everything in this world to follow the Father and guide the new church. He was in the face of all comers but absolutely broken over the desire to share the gospel and heal a lost world. Unyielding in selflessness, no matter what his cost. He had limitless compassion for the weak but called everyone on the carpet inspite of how it made them feel. He was humble to his enemies with a fierce pride in the face of death for his Father.

    I am called to be a warrior, to be passionate, to draw the line in the sand, and except nothing less. Beauty will always take my breath and injustices will make me shake with anger. To cry when I see pain and exalt in victory, that is how he made me. Does that take away from my humility, grace, or love? I believe the only way that I can be this man that I am called to be, is with His heart so mirrored in mine that I no longer see me but only Him. Only at this place can I find the grace and humility that he calls me to.

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