“I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots.” (Psalm 81:6)
“From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” (Galatians 6:17)
Even as I sit here and write this, a friend with whom I shared a brief but deep and–to my mind–important relationship has just walked into the coffeeshop. At present, we have both seen one another though he doesn’t know I’ve seen him. We met two years ago through a mutual friend that has since moved away. I don’t know the state of his heart and he hasn’t moved to interact with me since he walked in. Three months ago, he sent me a long and pointed instant message full of all the things he’d observed about me during our time hanging together that he didn’t have the forthrightness to tell me point in time. I look over and see him sitting at his laptop and briefly bury my head in my hands. Our brotherhood in Christ remains but anything above that level was severed.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Reason I quote the top two verses, especially the one from Galatians, is because God will only have you love someone in close proximity for so long. As Jesus does indeed show up by His Spirit whenever you fellowship in His name, issues and longstanding wounds will surface. They’ll come to light because God wants to deal with them. I admit that I did make mistakes in our friendship. But my friend was not forthright in love in calling me out. And honestly, the phrase “calling me out” regarding the things I did that he didn’t like is even too harsh a tone for what he noticed. Nobody’s perfect. The things that unite the Body of Christ (can I call it the Mispocha of Christ?), really the one thing that makes us one is love. His love. In a word, Him. “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” (John 17:11)
When you think about the varied character types that made up the fledgling church, it’s a miracle anything was able to happen at all. Jesus had to instruct them to “tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) From where I sit, I cannot see how anything can happen in the way of reconciliation between my friend and I. I could go to him, ask him how he is. The tone of the message he sent, however, was shot through with disrespect and cutting misconstruances. I have since forgiven and continue to should the pain enervate. It’s one thing to run afoul with those who don’t share the same spiritual parentage as you, but disagreements within the Body tend to have an uglier patina and a harder unraveling.
“But with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26a)
I understand that God is all about reconciliation and love among the Family. But look at what Paul went through with Barnabas. It says “And the contention was so sharp between them that they departed asunder one from the other.” (Acts 15:39a) Both of them wanted to serve the Lord but neither could reconcile whatever caused them to separate. They had run together into the crowd at Athens after having been mistaken for gods (see Acts 14), and now this. I respect my friend and still have love for him and I’m confident things will come around in the future. But with respect to now, only the Holy Spirit has access to those things that would keep us from fellowshipping in Him. Come to think of it, that’s why Jesus had the disciples “tarry in Jerusalem”. For the intangible glue of the Holy Spirit to be delivered. Maybe that’s what is needed in this case.
“O Lord, Thou knowest.” (Psalm 40:9b)