I wonder, are we who are identified as Christians, any better than those who do not? What I mean is, do we treat each other differently in situations of conflict than non-Christians do? Are we leaving our sacrifice at the altar and then seeking out the person we are in conflict with and seeking to resolve the issue? Are we bearing grudges against our brothers and sisters in Christ because we believe the alleged offense is too big to overlook and we deserve an apology? Is our pride only put aside for strangers? I have seen too many conflicts in churches where pride and a sense of “rightness” is too big a fight to give up.
In the church I attended up through my teen years we hired a new pastor. The church had been governed by a congregational system where members would vote on decisions that were related to the operation of the church and expenses to maintain the facility. The church had a board of deacons and trustees but any major, and sometimes minor, decision was voted on by the church body. The new pastor wanted to change to an elder system with a board of elders which the pastor would preside over. It essentially was what one would consider a power move and some in the congregation were very resistant to what was going on. Anyway, when it came to the second vote (the first was against elder rule) people who retired and moved away, were called to vote, even though they were not active members, some were gone for more than five years. It was a disgrace to the name of Christ. Both sides were wrong in how they approached the whole issue because their pride was too much to swallow, and power over the state of the church was at stake. It was a battle of wills, and the will of God was not one of them.
I also had a conversation with another person who said he would not forgive a brother in Christ because he did something unforgivable to him. What is was I don’t remember but he believed this offense was too great to let go. In his mind the offense was greater and more important than the offense his sin had caused his Savior. Another person said that homosexuality is fine with God. As long as the two people loved each other God didn’t care if they were man and woman, man and man or woman and woman. Love is love. But to this same person it was wrong to indulge in pornography or steal or lie or cheat.
I don’t remember reading anywhere in the bible that the principles, taught by the Holy Spirit in the bible, was a buffet. One could flip through the pages of scripture and decide which tenets to observe and obey and which ones did not fit their situation. What God expects is obedience. How one lives is not Christianity-a-la-carte, it is accepting all the bible teaches or none. It is the same idea when you are a law breaker. If you break one commandment one is guilty of breaking the whole law, as James teaches. As a Christian, we must all that the bible teaches about relationships and conflict or we reject them all. We must show that we Christians by the way we love, and that does not include loving oneself above all others.
We want to pick and choose what is relevant to us and what can be ignored. When Jesus suffered on the cross, He did not suffer His Father’s wrath for some sins or only certain sins, He suffered for ALL of humanity’s sin. We must not be like that wicked servant who, after being forgiven of his debt the king, went and threw his fellow servant in debtor’s jail for a much lesser debt, and that is what we are doing when are selective in our obedience.