The Joy of Being WoundedNehemiah 8:9-10
1 He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom.
2 A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.
Many years ago as a young man I witnessed something in the church that impacted me at a very profound level. The church that I had spent many of my formative years attending was headed for disaster. What started out as a small seed of disunity among some members quickly grew into an irreconcilable disaster. The end result was a wounded congregation and a church split.
On the outside looking in it was clear to see what had happened. Neither side sought understanding and wisdom, both sides sought allies. As the days passed the phone lines heated up and each person involved in the scuffle sought to ally themselves with other members by pleading their own case. They didn’t delight in understanding, but rather their delight was in sharing “their side of the story” in order to create the large group of supporters to crush the “enemy”. It was eye opening to me on many levels, but the most lasting impact was to see God’s church divide and separate right before my eyes. Just as Moses divided the Red Sea, the end result was a division in God’s church that was just as distinct, and just as deadly for those caught in the middle as the two sides crashed back together again.
The problem with this situation and the millions of others like it is that pride is often more important to us than humility. Convincing people that we are “right” is often more important to us than actually being right. It is human nature to protect ourselves at all costs…and there is very little about our human nature that is Godly. Actually, even though thousands of years have passed since Solomon’s reign, nothing has changed as far as human nature is concerned. Today we have cell phones and Facebook to rally support for ourselves, in Solomon’s time they might have had the “Camel Express” as their gossip platform! Whatever the method for rallying support for OUR cause, we need to begin to learn humility, not pride, and we must seek peace, not support. We must seek truth and wisdom first, not seek to isolate the situation and look for ways to plead only our point of view.
When a difficult issue arises in your life, do you seek understanding, wisdom and reconciliation with the perceived offending party…or do you seek allies to join your cause? Are you more concerned with recruiting people to “your side” by revealing your own thoughts than you are in seeking God’s wisdom and God’s resolution to the issue at hand? Think about the last time that you were in a position to seek God or seek man, did you reach for God’s word and God’s wisdom…or did you reach for the phone? Did you seek to separate and isolate your version of the events by revealing one side of the story to friends and family or did you seek truth? I would wager that each one of us knows who to call to rally support depending on the situation…like a child that goes to mom in a certain situation and to dad in others. And most of us not only know who to go to and when, but we act upon it. Isn’t it true that more often than not we seek the person that will be most sympathetic to our cause, while refraining from either seeking God’s truth by searching His word or calling someone that might give us a dissenting viewpoint? Being in an echo chamber is often very comfortable. But hearing another viewpoint that says we might be wrong in our judgments is wise.
Brothers and sisters, I want wisdom, not comfort. I want humility, not pride. I want God’s way, not my own. I know each of you want those things too. If we are to be a church that grows in our love for God and each other, we must learn that protecting ourselves is not the most important thing, protecting the integrity of God’s truth is.
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Yours in Christ,