AUTHORS NOTE: This blog post is the third of a four-part series dealing with the real reasons “mature” believers walk away from a healthy church family using the excuse, “We’re just not being fed anymore.” To read the original post click HERE.
REAL REASON #3: We’re really upset about something else, but we’re unwilling to obey Jesus and communicate with the person/people who offended us, and this lame excuse sounds much more spiritual than saying all of that out loud!
In my experience, this is most often the real reason Christians leave their churches.
They’re offended or hurt.
But they’re not willing to obey Jesus, who told us to “GO” to our brother and “show him his fault” in order that the relationship can be restored (Matthew 18:15).
But no Christian wants to walk away from their church admitting their own disobedience. So they use the much-more-spiritual excuse, “We’re just not being fed anymore.”
Listen to me. If you are offended with another brother or sister in church, and instead of taking steps to resolve the conflict, you are walking away from the relationship, then you are living in clear disobedience to the Word and the will of God.
God cares deeply about our relationships with people and He has given us some very clear commands on how to deal with the offenses and conflicts that are inevitable in any church, marriage, family, or friendship.
If you are currently struggling with a strained relationship in which an offense has occurred, here is what God wants you to do:
1. Go to the person/people who have hurt you.
You don’t get a pass on this one! God’s Word places the responsibility for initiating conflict resolution on YOU! Read Matthew 18:15. Read Matthew 5:23-24. Whether you are the one with the hurt feelings or the one who hurt the other person’s feelings, God tells you to go to them. I truly believe that so many of our strained and broken relationships could be restored and healed if Christians would simply obey this command from Scripture.
2. Be honest about how you feel.
Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” This means that when you’re hurt you need to be honest about it. Don’t minimize or downplay your feelings. Don’t tell yourself it’s not a big deal…because it is a big deal! It’s big enough of a problem that you’re willing to leave your church over it! So be honest about how you’re feeling!
3. Deal with your anger or hurt feelings sooner rather than later.
Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” I believe a clear application from this verse is that we need to deal with our hurt and anger today rather than tomorrow if at all possible. And the Bible tells us why: if we continually go to bed with unresolved hurt and anger toward another person, we give the devil access to our life to drive a wedge of division and bitterness deep into our heart. Satan loves a bitter believer. And bitterness grows when we fail to deal with conflict quickly. When we are offended with someone, we need to have a sense of urgency to deal with that issue and restore the relationship.
4. Choose your words carefully.
When we’re hurt, the natural tendency is to use our words as a weapon against the person who has hurt us. The two primary ways we do this are either through direct verbal attacks (hurtful words said to the other person) or through gossip (negative things spoken about the other person). Both are wrong. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” God wants us to use our words to build others up…not tear them down.
5. Be quick to forgive.
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Not only does the Bible tell us what to do (forgive), it also tells us why to do it (because God forgave you).
You can read the Bible through from cover-to-cover and I promise that nowhere in Scripture will you find a single command to run away from a hurt or offense. God’s will is for you to engage the issue head-on and be reconciled to the person who has hurt or offended you.
Is there any relationship in your life today that is need of restoration? Are you willing to obey God and take the steps toward the reconciliation of that relationship?
Don’t run away from the relationship. Trust God to help you move toward healing!