“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence 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, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matt 18:15-17″
“Who made this mess?” If you have toddlers, kids, teens, young adults, cats, wild howler monkeys etc. in your home, at some point you have asked this apparently rhetorical question. Rhetorical because most of the time, rather than confession you’ll be faced with blank stares. You know the stare, the one that says “What mess? I see nothing with the chaos around us. Doesn’t the house always look like this?
If not the blank stare, we get the blatant disavowal of any wrong doing. Not me. Faster than a presidential candidate they’ll throw anyone, and everyone under the bus. “It’s their fault.” Like this kid
Everyone wants to blame somebody else. The toddlers blame Batman, siblings blame siblings, the howler monkeys just scream, but they are probably blaming somebody.
Whatever the case we find ourselves saying, “Well I don’t care who did it you better clean it up, because I’m not going to do it.” And then we do. We try to clean up the mess around us.
Homes are one thing, but what do you do when someone else makes a mess in your life? What do you do when someone sweeps in and creates chaos in your life? Let’s up the ante a bit. What do you do when it’s a brother or sister in Christ? What happens when another part of the body hurts you, makes a mess of your life? What do you do when the Body is broken?
The truth is, we all have to face that question at some point in our lives. As long as the church is filled with human beings, even the best of us have the potential to let someone else down. We hurt one another. We make a mess of each other’s lives. What do we do, when the body is broken and the house of the Lord has been made a mess?
First, we must acknowledge that blame is not as important to the Lord as is healing and wholeness. It is, after all, His Body and His house. Jesus is always about healing and making whole what is broken. Before we ever get started in cleaning up the mess we must pray that God puts His mind in us and that we make no movement until we are aligned with His purpose. “God is my purpose to win, to show that I was wronged? Or is my ultimate purpose to bring healing to the body and clean your house so that it is fit for your presence?”
Secondly we must understand that healing is painful. Wholeness isn’t easy. God always asks us to start with ourselves first. even when we are sure it’s not our mess, when we examine our hearts we can always find something. A moment that we added to the mess, created some brokeness. We should confess to God, and others when appropriate our role in the mess. This is the only way to begin to remove the bitterness that often delays healing.
The Above Scripture stresses the need to hold one another accountable. What often curtails healing is that ignore the mess around us. Ignore it long enough and we stop seeing it altogether. We do no one any favors by ignoring their sinfulness and hard hearts. Yes it’s easier. But ultimately it is more damaging. When someone in the church makes a mess of your life we are to hold them accountable. Time and time again we are instructed in the Scriptures, not to ignore brokeness in the body. Paul writes a good segment in 1 Corinthians about this very thing.
But notice the Scripture stresses the importance of not doing this alone. Brokeness is never a one on one thing. It effects the entire church. That’s why we are called the Body. Stub your little toe sometime and see how your entire body reacts. Find a mature Christian in the faith and meet with those that have created the mess. It’s not gossip if your goal is about healing. I’ve done this before and it isn’t easy. It’s not pleasant and everyone was uncomfortable. but God also brought healing out of it.
Be patient. Healing and cleaning take a while. It doesn’t always happen over night, but it can happen. One of the reasons we don’t experience a greater cleansing and healing is simply because we are unwilling to let God move in His time and heal us. It’s not always instantaneous.
At some point we’ve all been hurt or disappointed by someone within the church. It happens to all of us, if you don’t believe it wait a couple of weeks until the Untied Methodist General Conference. Whether it’s on a global scale, or with the person next to you in the pew it’s always painful. But the truth is, as we said in church recently, My God is bigger than my mess. He’s bigger than our broken body. Let the healing begin.
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><