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!
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Lord knows I can feel annoyed about something someone says, does or doesn’t do, and maybe even with good reason. But whether I’m annoyed, perplexed, or even offended, I hope I’ll always be faithful to check myself no matter what. I know I’ll ask the Lord to do it and even phone a friend for help, if needed.
May we all do this in the Body of Christ: As members, may there always be liberty to ask and be asked: “Hey, does this look infected to you?”…and there be an answer to the question toward any needed resolve.
When there is illness in the Body, we don’t have to remain well “enough” for the appearance of health, or limp along. There ought to be more than just signs of life in our fellowshipping. Let’s overcome and seek to thrive as “oaks of righteousness” – as Christ’s Bride without spot or wrinkle. If not, of what use is our professions of “good news?” and songs of love? (Isaiah 61:1-3, 1 John 4:7-21)
We may have to duke it out sometimes, and hopefully, healthy fear and trembling isn’t far from us when we do, but at least there *is* a struggle, for the Bible is all about that. People are bound to feel the need to serve Christ somewhere else for whatever reason. May they be blessed and loved on as they go, then and always. In this way, we honor one another like the Lord would want.
I think it’s when we fail to at least ask the honest-to-God questions of our own soul’s condition and seek truth in the answer that the real trouble starts.
PS: Maybe there needs to be a “Pants on the Ground” rendition of “Blood on the Pew,” if not for my own reminder. Hey, I’m just sayin’…
“Blood on the pew, blood on the pew….lookin’ like a foo’ with your blood on the pew. Plank in your eye, crown turn sideways, pride in your mouth and the blood on the pew…”
Oh…you’ve hit a nerve with me on this one, Sue. Not so much in the sense of offending or being offended (although Lord knows I have), but in the struggle and pain involved with people leaving a fellowship–especially without offering a reason. Showing up matters. Just our presence in church (or anywhere!) makes a difference! Your analogy to germs is perfect! Germy or not, we are stronger, better, more able to give and receive, and more affirmed when we are together.
Well, Melissa–wise words and a very funny song–what a combination. Thanks for the link. I am still laughing.
I agree, Jeanett, we are better when we are together, warts and all. It is hard to be the body of Christ when some fade away. One good thing about being a pastor’s wife is that I can’t just leave. I have to stick it out and grow.