(The following journal entry is fictional and not designed to resemble any particular person or church.)
Friday, May 24, 2016, 10:30 pm
Lord, I lift up to you the crazy situation at church. How did this happen to our growing, thriving body of Christ? How can Christians act so meanly and distrustingly toward one another? Where did the love go? These folks were friends two months ago. I am not even sure what the fight is all about.
I understand the elders’ side, having been one myself. They are working hard, trying to make the best decisions for the church. They aren’t in it for the popularity, but they do have to live with whatever the ramifications of it are. Now all these people are mad at them, just for one little decision. And when they came to the elders’ meeting, most of them expressed it in such an attacking way. Almost nothing positive, the only encouragements were to just to preface their accusations. From what I heard the meeting was a disaster!
On the other hand, I see the other side as well. It seemed the decision was made very quickly and the rationale seemed rather shallow. This is a part of church life that many people care very deeply about. All their time at the church, it has been one way and then to suddenly change it… I imagine the people that put so much effort into it were very hurt, and felt totally unappreciated. I know if my wife were still in it, she would have. And then to come to the elders’ meeting and feel so unheard. The elders were so defensive. They didn’t seem to want to listen.
I don’t quite understand it. From a Biblical perspective it’s really a minor issue. We are not talking about a major doctrine of the faith like the infallibility of scripture or justification by faith. Nor is it a major moral violation of the scripture. It’s just that the Lord gives freedom to look at some things differently. Yet I can understand it when some people say that it’s a slippery slope and can lead to worse problems later on. It’s really an issue of what is the wisest course.
But as I think about it, wow, its been brewing underneath the surface for awhile. It isn’t just this decision; these two groups have had issues with each other for a while. Oh yes, I remember the negative gossip flying last year and a few years before, all about different things. Lord, if this doesn’t get resolved it could break the church in two!
What’s that you say, Lord? You think I have a good Biblical perspective and good understanding of the conflict since I see both sides. Yes, I have good friends involved on each. And I do see the tremendous ramifications of this fight. So I should what? Enter in as a mediator? “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” (Mt. 5:9)
Oh wow, that is a scary thought! Be the man in the middle, where both sides can shoot me. I could lose my friends on both sides. But if I don’t, we could lose the church. Hmmm…
I could simply offer myself to the elders to mediate the situation, and be willing to abide with whatever they say even if it’s no. If they say yes, then I could start by just listening to both sides. There’s a big need for that. Having heard all of the issue, I could go back and forth offering some ways to resolve it. As I think about it, there could be some very legitimate solutions both sides could endorse, a sort of win-win situation. Maybe they would even be willing to work on past issues. What it really needs is heartfelt confessions of wrongs and abundant amounts of forgiveness. For Christians who really know they are saved by grace, this is doable. And with the Lord on my side…
Ok, Lord, I’ll be the man in the middle.