Monday, March 10, 2008

The Avoider's Creed

Unity does not equal avoidance.

Confrontation does not have to be an evil, divisive thing for believers.

The Church has somehow, through the years, arrived at a point where we want to avoid controversial topics at all costs. And Christians are fantastic avoiders. We have relationships that are superficial and non-accountable. We have sermons that feel good, but aren't convicting. We have church politics and leaders that often don't know how to deal with bad behavior.

Why are we so scared of conflict? Is the charge for Christian unity among brothers and sisters a call to sweep things under the rug? Can love and admonishment coexist?

We know the answer to that, but we rarely put it into practice.

    Colossians 3:16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Teaching and admonishing go together, don't they?

    Galatians 6:1-2: Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
We are to restore our brothers and sisters, and at the same time, we are to help carry their burdens.

    Matthew 18:15-17: If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Christians know these verses. They get thrown around all the time, yet rarely put into practice. Because it's UNCOMFORTABLE. We've somehow been trained to avoid confrontation. A lot of people won't like to be confronted! It's true. It will be uncomfortable.

But it's needed. It has to be done. The church isn't going to grow and thrive without it. Without gentle admonishment, without some serious talking, without confrontation, the church will remain lukewarm.

In our quest to put all believers on the same level, in our desire to see the lines between leadership and layperson dissolved, we have to make sure we don't forget that there IS a Biblical call for confrontation and gentle admonishment. A church full of "avoiders" may grow in numbers, but it will always be a mile wide and an inch deep.

    I Thessalonians 5:12-14: Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
So I ask -- Why have Christians become so scared of confrontation? Are we so frightened of the "hypocrite" tag that we avoid any direct accountability whatsoever?

10 comments:

Joe B said...

Ironic, we are afraid of confrontation but we are slow to forgive. Forgiveness is a confrontaton of sorts, too, isn't it?

scott said...

They definitely have to go hand in hand, of course. Do we fear the confrontation because we know our (and others') reluctance to forgive?

Joe B said...

It comes down to faith. Faith to speak the truth, faith to live with the consequences, faith to love, faith to forgive,faith to accept forgiveness.

"By grace ye are saved through faith", we say. But we tend to live as if we are saved by SAYING we have faith. Jesus said we are saved by following him, but we are usually taught that we are saved by accepting him.

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Faith is in following, not merely in agreeing.

So yeah, we avoid.

Bethany said...

Maybe we are deeply struggling with guilt and don't feel we should point a finger even if it is out of love. Or, we just don't love each other that much. That's always an option.

Joe B said...

OUCH!

Randy said...

Hi,

I came over from Mr. Shumway's blog. I couldn't agree with you more on what you wrote.

I think you are so right in what you talked about. Truth isn't being shared anymore either.

Thanks for a wonderful post.

Randy

Joe B said...

Wow. That little "OUCH!" had a tremendous impact. I am humbled at your kind words.

Joe B said...

Yes, I am just kidding.

Mr. E said...

I guess many of us struggle with confronting sin and being thought of as judgemental. We can confront someone's sinful behavior in a way that does not come across as hateful or judgemental. Doesn't the Bible tell us to admonish one another in love? We can call sin a sin and still love the sinner right? If the sinner does not accept the true word of God, then we still love them, just don't condone or accept their sinful behaviors. Be straight with them, thell them the truth, but show them grace as Jesus also showed us grace.

Big Doofus said...

Scott and Joe. Do you guys have issues with your own church? Maybe you need to bring this up with the leadership.

I've been a deacon at my church for the past 3-4 years and have been in some other leadership function on and off for many years. As a result, I've seen my share of confrontation. I'll tell you. It just SUCKS (el pardono my el-Frencho). I think that's why we're so scared of it.

I hate to say it, but I haven't seen too many favorable outcomes with confrontation. It seems like it almost always ends up bad. That doesn't mean it should be avoided.