Give Yourself to Others …

Posts Tagged ‘fellowship

A friend of mine was recently fired from a job at a local congregation, where we both worship.  At least we both did until the firing — now only I worship there.

As I’ve reflected on the points of conflict and points of view that led to the firing, I’ve reached some conclusions, which I’m choosing to share here.

First, it’s mildly troubling when congregations of faith begin to base their actions upon state law rather than principles of Christian faith.  I’m not saying congregations should ignore state law, but rather, the standard of behavior should not be what the state says is proper, but rather, what God says is the way to treat people.  When it comes to treating people right, God’s example of loving one another should trump human rules.

Second, from where I sit, looking the circumstances of my friend’s termination, the people involved are looking at the same set of facts, but reaching dramatically different conclusions about motive, intent, etc.

Only God knows our heart — it says that in the Text, somewhere — but I find people often reaching conclusions about someone’s intent or motive.  And that’s not what a disciple of Jesus should be doing.

I know there have been, and probably will be again, times in my life when I try to the right thing for someone, but I just blow it.  When I think is the right thing, turns about to not just be not the right thing, but a terribly wrong thing.  Was I wrong to try?  Did I sin?  Did fail my friend?  Did I fail God?

I wanted to do the right thing, but I missed the mark.

Isn’t that what Paul wrote about at the end of Romans, chapter 7.

My conclusion, for now, about those involved in my friend’s termination, is that as a group, they are not looking at the possibility that they may not know the intent and motives and point-of-view of the others involved.

The result has been a lot of tension, anxiety, and potentially hard feelings.

I don’t think this situation has been handled as well as it could have been.  But I don’t doubt the intent or effort to do so — only that the choices made have not worked out the way they expected.

I also think that many, many times, when we think we’re faced with a serious conflict and/or confrontation, we haven’t gone to enough effort to appreciate someone else’s point-of-view.

From my point-of-view, this is the practical wisdom of what Jesus taught in Matthew 18:15-20.

I admit to a somewhat visceral reaction when I hear someone say they can’t be around another person, because of what someone has said or what they’ve done.

Disagreements over doctrinal matters have provided the basis for denominational divisions among people who claim the label, Christian.  Similarly, cultural or social differences have provided a basis for similar social divisions by race, ethnicity and other criteria.

So, the question of “tests of fellowship”, while a familiar phrase to religious people, is equally applicable to secular matters.

When I read the gospel of the New Testament, I have not yet found an example of Jesus applying such tests of fellowship.  He dealt with each individual based upon each unique individual.

That’s very hard.  But very necessary, if we’re to “love each other, the way Jesus loved us.”

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