I noticed blood on the pew the other day. War between brothers is a biblical principle—at least from Genesis to Revelation. Not that offense is godly, but it is a trait found in the Scriptures and in our churches.
Human beings are not the first to leave a fellowship because of offense. Lucifer beat us to it; he became offended at God. A rebellion ensued in heaven and one-third of the angels received the right boot of fellowship along with Lucifer.
Conflict seems to be a part of the package of any good church. I believe God guides us to situations where we will have every opportunity to take up an offense. Those that learn to process offense and conflict correctly should end up as leaders in God’s House (see 1 Corinthians 11:17-19). Unfortunately, few churches follow this guideline for choosing leadership, which results in more problems.
I’m not implying that no one should ever leave a church because of issues with other people or with the leadership. No, occasionally leaving is a healthy option. Sometimes a departure is necessary for all to grow. I would add, however, that staying is often necessary for all to grow.
Did you know that every healthy human body has a multitude of germs dwelling within its blood and tissues? As long as the germs can’t dominate the atmosphere of the body, the health of the body is ensured.
It isn’t the absence of germs or offense that creates health in a church fellowship, but the ability to fight off offense and walk in love. The basic antidote is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
In his book, Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them, John Ortberg states, “The early church was not a place where conflict didn’t exist. It was a place where people were committed and accountable to manage conflict well.”
So why do we assume it is the other guy that needs to cope with conflict well? Why do most of us embrace offense instead of process it? How many people do you know who no longer attend church because of being offended? I’d like to hear your point of view.
In Him together, Susan Gaddis
For more reading on the subject of offense, check out the chapters called “Ouch—That Hurt!” and “Sheep Bite, but Shepherds Barbecue” in my book, Help, I’m Stuck With These People for the Rest of Eternity!