We expect trouble. We can’t avoid it. Jesus even told us, “in this world, you will have tribulation.” That’s the nature of living in a fallen world, the nature of sinful man.
The problem is when it comes from the sinner saved by grace.
We’re supposed to be new creations in Christ, so why do we hurt each other so?
David struggled with this:
If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers.*
Hurt caused by those you worship and minister with is so much more painful than that brought on by the ways of the world. The wounds are not visible, but just as deep. We begin to bleed internally, worn down by the loss and feeling long-term pain by the scare tissue it leaves behind.
Why do we do this to each other? It hurts, it wounds, and it destroys the witness to the world around us.
Why? Because we may be saved by grace, but we’re still sinners. As long as we wear this physical shell and live in this fallen world, there will be a warring in our souls to listen to the old man and let him have his way.
You don’t want to deal with me when I’m tired. I have no energy to stay strong and kind. I snap, I get angry, I withdraw. The same thing with disagreements. When stress comes in a relationship, a ministry, a church, we get worn down and our spiritual defenses begin to drop, allowing Satan’s arrows through, piercing our minds and hearts, weakening the new in us, while allowing the old to show its face.
People will always disappoint. I will always disappoint, because I’m not perfect. I’m just getting by, because of His grace. The danger here is two-fold: Becoming so cynical towards others, that you never allow yourself to be vulnerable within the Body of Christ. Or, secondly, allowing any hurts caused, to make us bitter toward the Church and ministry.
I have to keep reading David’s psalm to know what to do, though it’s found in many other places as well: Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.*
So, I stop focusing on people and focus on Christ. It’s only in my focus on Christ that I can love and serve and forgive others — because he did it first for me — while I was still in my sin.
That’s the grace we don’t deserve. That’s the grace we must live and give.
Are you bleeding internally? Go to the Grace Physician.
Grace and Peace
*Psalm 55:12-14 (NIV).
*Psalm 55:22 (NIV).