Really abbreviated blog post tonight! I apologize for the week off, but I was literally taking a week off both work and blogging while celebrating my wife’s birthday.
On to the meat of the post. It is time for us to continue our discussion on community by talking about how people in community take responsibility for their actions – a theme we will continue later this week.
In Andy Stanley’s book Enemies of the Heart, he tells the story of how he decided to scare a family that was giving his dad, their pastor, a hard time. He did some manner of prank which he then felt guilty about after becoming an adult. So as he struggled with the guilt, he sought guidance from others. His pastor told him that he was forgiven and he didn’t need to seek further forgiveness, but it kept eating at him. At some point after the prank he had even put money in their mailbox to pay for the damages that he had caused. But it still ate at him. Ultimately he concludes the story by saying that he drove to the man’s home eventually stopping (after passing it several times) and went to the door and sought the man’s forgiveness. It was the most nervous he had been as an adult, because he had no clue how the man would react to his confession. The man knew that he had done the prank, but he forgave him – long before this meeting. (Enemies of the Heart, page 107).
Unresolved conflict is an enemy of community. As we’ll see on Wednesday, leaders keep short accounts, because they know this truth that conflict divides and forgiveness heals. In a community, the smallest schism can become a greater problem and can divide or destroy community. Consider a wall of sandbags in a flood. As they hold back the water, the building or town is dry, but if a leak occurs, the water quickly fills the town and the area outside is the same as the area inside the wall. Water is one of the most damaging elements on earth, and so are words and conflict in community.
So as we build community, let us be mindful of the small things that we allow to break community and may we seek to plug those breaks by resolving conflict quickly and completely. And may we be quick to forgive, because there is no faster way to resolve conflict than to be willing to seek and to give forgiveness.