About four months ago, I had an encounter with a person in our church who is also in leadership. We’d had some terse moments in the few weeks before, and I was more than a touch on edge. He asked a question of me that I took as critical. I spoke to him in terms that were less than kind, and frankly dismissive of his feelings. Worse, it all happened in front of a few others who were seated with me around a table. As he walked away, it occurred to me that I hadn’t even looked at him as we exchanged words. Yuck.

The next day my phone rang. It was a close friend, one of those who had witnessed my graceless retort. “That didn’t go so well between the two of you.” Internally, rancid excuses raised their ugly heads and growled. I paused. One word echoed in my head. “Christlike.” In this moment, thinking on that situation, did I want to be like Jesus? Overall, in my life, yes. Here was a real life opportunity to choose his Way when my flesh would rather not.

Sigh. “Right, it didn’t.”

“If it were me, I’d hope that you’d feel free to let me know.”

“Right. I need to talk to him.”

“Yes.”

And so I did that. Completely discussed me and my words. He forgave me, then made a few comments that I had to decide to ignore.

Pride and defensiveness threaten us. Our culture tells us that they are friendly traits, that we’re number one, that NO ONE can tell us what to do or how to live. But our Jesus looks at us, his Church, and tells us that we’re to be different. Those fiercely independent attributes, ones which my world finds so admirable, actually threaten to steal my determination to become like Christ. I have to catch them in the act and refuse to be an accomplice.

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:15. The words of Jesus himself. Not just for how the world sees us, but how we see one another. How well do I love this person who has such a different take on things, who would do things differently than I do, who defines ministry in terms that are sometimes foreign to me?

Thanks to my phone-calling friend, who compelled me to act quickly, the relationship was moved from strained to at least tolerable. And hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, there may be some love for one another.

Oh, right, another verse comes into play here:

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6

Thanks for that.


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