Love, shoot or quit
“Bickering is just what we do,” the seasoned churchgoer says to the newbie who, after her first meeting on the committee, feels she just witnessed a hit and run. Only there isn’t a lot of running as the meeting ends. The one who did the damage just picks up her papers and her purse and moseys to the door where, with others who chatter like songbirds about next month’s garden club meeting, she just leaves.
Numb at the table, the newbie wonders, “Is that gun powder I smell? Shots were fired just a few minutes ago.”
“You’ll get used to it,” the seasoned churchgoer says with a smile.
The newbie isn’t sure she wants to get used to this.
“We can have some heated discussions, sure,” the senior offers as she stands to leave. “And that was one of them. But we do get along.”
A fiction novelist (and you can visit sample chapters of Jesus Cloned here on my website if you like), I just made up that scenario, but these conversations happen in churches all the time. Hard words fall. Accusations fly. Feelings get hurt. And worse, good-hearted people who want to be a part of a church want to run from hard hitting meetings. This is Christian? This is kindness? This is love?
Scripture calls us to not only love our neighbor but also our enemy (Matthew 5:43-45). This command to love includes loving the one who lambastes those around her because they don’t agree with what she’s thinking.
When you love someone, you understand them. If you do not understand them, then with questions, patience, humility and gentleness (which sound like the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23), you altruistically seek to understand why they erupted like a volcano. True, the hot head was not loving in the moment, but that doesn’t stop you from loving them through all moments.
Let’s get back to the newbie at the meeting. She could have shot back at the one blasting away at those in the room. She also could have quit.
And the senior seated beside her? Did she help the newcomer by extending attention, understanding, and love?
Speaking to how meeting-goers should be, the Apostle Paul gives advice. “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).”
Strive for peace and holiness. The emphasis on the verb ‘strive’ means the goal of peace and holiness is not accomplished. It’s ongoing.
So, get to the next meeting. Get to the cannonball and to the one who never thought such sharp words could be hurled in a room sixty feet from the sanctuary.
And don’t shoot or quit. Instead, do this. Love them both.
This blog first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on May 8, 2019.