Sunday, August 12, 2018

Relationships in Church

I want to use this post to share about a topic that's been on my heart for some time. Read it if you wish, or not. Either way, here it goes.


It's such an easy thing to do and an easy way to hurt others.

It usually starts off innocent (or so we think) and usually we share negative feelings about someone with a spouse first. But then, we share more with close friends, other family members, and the negativity just keeps spreading. Often times, and sadly, without it's victim knowing.

I have been guilty of it and I'm embarrassed to say that. The Bible talks quite a bit about this (see James 3) and as believers, we are called to go to a brother if we have discord with them (see Matthew 5:23-24). How often do we even see that happen in the church? Unfortunately, not often at all. It's quite sad actually! We are called to a higher standard and yet so often within the church we don't build each other up.

This really frustrates me. It's one thing to share everything with a spouse and keep it between the two of you. It's another thing to go and tell a friend, and another friend who tells another friend, and so on. Again, oftentimes without the "victim" knowing there is any sort of problem or issue.

I'd like to share an example...let's assume all characters in this story are Bible believing Christians who attend church together.

Let's say Tulip and Apple are working on a church project together for a church program. Tulip is all excited about working on this project and gets to brainstorming ideas right away. Apple isn't as excited and wonders why she even got roped into doing something like this for the church in the first place.

Tulip and Apple have their first meeting to talk about their ideas and immediately Apple starts gossiping about a certain member of the church she doesn't like. Tulip doesn't know what to say or do and just sits there and listens to Apple complain. Fifteen minutes later they are finally talking about the plans for the church program.

That's how gossip starts. The next thing you know, Tulip is being talked about behind her back because she didn't engage in the gossip Apple wanted her to. All sorts of lies are being said about Tulip and she notices a few people that she knows start distancing themselves from her. She in turn begins distancing herself from others. She doesn't understand why so what should she do?

Well, as a believer, she is called to pray and go to her sisters in Christ about these matters and NOT to gossip about them see Matthew 5).

So that is what Tulip does....she approaches her sister(s) in a disarming way and shares that she has noticed her sister(s) is/are closing themselves off from her. And you want to know what a common response often is from this type of question??

"Oh, I didn't think anything was wrong. As far as I'm concerned, I didn't think anything happened between us and I don't know of anything that might have happened. Trust me, if I had a problem with you, I would tell you."

It may be laughable at first, but in reality this response is far too common within the church. And let me be clear, I'm in no way claiming innocence here. I've started and participated in gossip. Because of this, I've had to go to a brother/sister to apologize for my sin. Sadly, the outcome of some of these past conflicts have left a distance between me and the other party/person.

And this is why some relationships aren't being built up in the church and why trust is an issue among brothers and sisters in Christ. It's sad, right? We want to shift the blame when we are actually confronted with our own sin instead of immediately repenting of our wrongdoing and making our friendships stronger.

This doesn't even cover intentional malicious gossip. It's amazing what we will believe about someone we barely know when we are told something negative about them from someone else. We immediately want to put up a wall and make it about an "us verses them." I once read that if we actually invested in the person "whom we heard so much negativity about" that we would grow to like them, not hate them. A friendship would actually become something tangible. Wouldn't that be glorious?

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