Tag Archives: christian relationships

What’s the Opposite of Gossip?

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your comments and consideration.

For me, “gossip” is a real hot button. It is the fuel that has grown most (probably all) of the church conflicts I have ever seen or heard about from the initial small conflict to the raging firestorm they can become. Jesus hits the topic head-on. More amazing stuff from Matthew 18…

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17

This is utterly transformative teaching from Jesus. Getting our brains wrapped around this in any practical sense requires some serious prayer. But for this post, let me just make five observations which touch on some common misuses and abuses of this little passage.

  1. The Only Correct Motive for this Process is Your Love for the Brother. This is a reference back to the parable of the lost sheep which Jesus uses to lead into this process. See my previous post on this parable.  If the motive in your heart is to cause him a little bit of vengeful pain, or to push him away, or to hurry up and get through these first two steps so you can take it to the church, or because you are feeling embarrassed, or because you are feeling protective of the

Languages of Worship

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and rerun for your consideration and comments.

Imagine this: you feel inspired to adopt a few children. You’ve always wanted a larger family and your (and your spouse’s) heart is breaking for the children around the world who are in need of Godly parents. So, you adopt one Chinese child, one Russian child, and one child who is hearing impaired. For now, each of them only speaks their language (Chinese, Russian, and sign). It’s your first night all together at the dinner table. You, your spouse and your three new children are all seated, staring at one another over a pot roast lovingly prepared by you. Here is my question: what language(s) will you speak at the table?

Maybe the more important question, the one more pertinent for the purposes of this post, is this: will you love these children enough to learn some words in their respective language(s), or will you coldly refuse to learn a single word in their language and just wait for them to learn yours?

Worship styles are like that. They are learned languages. In many cases, they are the only “worship” language spoken by some individuals. Whether or not I am willing to learn the language spoken by my brother is really just a question of how badly I want to communicate with him. Do I love him enough to want to learn his language?

The world is becoming smaller, and there are literally thousands of “languages of worship” around the world. For a local body of worshipers who are at all open to new worshipers joining them, it is becoming more and more impossible to limit worship to only one language (i.e., only one style). As new church members color the …

The Opposite of Love is Indifference

Tuesday Remix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and rerun for your consideration and comments.

In a previous post here, I addressed one group among Christians today who respond to the gay marriage issue with vocal disdain and “protests” designed to change the behavior of people outside the church; trying to get non-Christians to act more like Christians. Silly endeavor, I think.

But the mediator in me wants to be fair. There are other groups in the church which have our response to this issue equally wrong, particularly when the same-sex marriage issue pertains to people inside the church, i.e., to people who are Christians themselves and have chosen to subject themselves to the Spiritual accountability of the church. There is a group within the church who believes same-sex marriage is immoral and runs against God’s desire for humanity, but who doesn’t believe it is any of the church’s business to say so even when it involves its own members. This group would say, “Just love them…leave their decisions about their private lives to themselves…it is not our business to be their ‘moral police.'” My question is, in what kind of world does that attitude constitute love?

I’m reminded of when my daughter used to come into the house with yet another new injury. Those of you with “active learners” for children know exactly what I mean. When that would happen, there were some things which we both knew needed to happen. Neither of us wanted to do those things, but at least one of us knew they were necessary (and the other one of us would grow to figure that out eventually). This wound was going to get cleaned. It was painful (for both of us) and the process was no fun at all, …

The Value of Relationships

Tuesday Remix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and re-run.

I wish I had a dollar for every time a pastor or church leader has commented to me, “I’m all for unity, but at what cost?” It always makes me smile. I know what he or she means—that agreement with each other is a good thing, but not the most important thing. I can’t argue with that. But agreement and unity are not the same thing.

Unity is not about agreeing all the time, it is a state of the relationships among a group of people. Biblical unity is a right state of relationships among Christians. And this, I believe, is the highest priority in the church. I believe it is more important than any of the issues which divide us. I’ll explain below why I believe that.

relationshipsWhat is at stake in this discussion is the value of Christian relationships. For most of the conflicts I see in the church today, the real heart of the matter is the relationships among the players. How much do these parties really value their on-going relationship? How interested are they in healing the broken relationship and what are they willing to sacrifice in order to do so? If you have ever been involved in marriage counseling, even informally, you have seen this at play. People talk about wanting reconciliation, but when it comes to making that happen, they often are not willing to do the things it requires, because (the truth is) they don’t really value that relationship that much. They would rather be right than be married. Or they would rather be free, or be any of a number of other good things, than be married. Unfortunately, that happens with relationships in the church as well. Lofty