By Michael Mooney, Exec. Elder
We Christians are an interesting breed because we all generally believe we hear from God. What becomes remarkable is when we misinterpret the voices of our egos as the prompting of the Holy Spirit. This is probably the single biggest reason for the breaking of fellowship between Brothers and Sisters in the faith.
Consider this outline:
1) Two Christians meet each other and form a friendship around their faith.
2) One fails to meet the others expectations. Then they communicate their disappointment.
3) The other responds with resentment.
4) At this point both begin to question the other one’s competence.
5) The relationship spirals downward until dissolution.
In such as situation, both individuals believe that they are correct and that the Holy Spirit has given them insight into the other person’s life.
But what about themselves? Ahhh…that is the question that goes unconsidered.
How can knowing the above help you to prevent the loss of future friendships/relationships?
The “Anytown Christian Fellowship” is a non-denominational church of approximately 150 members. As with most churches this one has a core group of leaders who have been members for several years.
One of the members, Carol, age 35, single, is one of those people who does not put up with nonsense. Due to past circumstances in her life she is always very serious and rarely smiles. She is well liked by the members, however, new members find it difficult to get close to her.
Diane recently began attending services at this church, and as a young Christian she is like a sponge wanting to soak up all she can learn of God. Diane also has baggage from childhood, suffers from frequent depression, but looks for things in her life which are fun and uplifting. Her biggest passion at the moment is raising cockatiels.
Carol leads a group called, “Read through the Bible.” This group consists of 6 to 8 members and meets in the fellowship hall once a week. Diane decides to join this group.
The group begins with prayer, they then take turns reading several chapters from the Old Testament, beginning in Genesis, then several chapters from the New Testament, beginning with Matthew. The only rule for the group is that they are not allowed to discuss anything while reading the Old Testament. Carol explains that this is not a Bible Study, but rather a way for us to memorize scripture in order to be prepared for the time when there will be no more Bibles.
Being a part of this group is difficult for Diane as she has no knowledge of the the Bible, however, she thinks that if she sticks with it she will begin to have more understanding. She also wants to make new friendships.
After being with the group for about 6 weeks, Diane brings her 5 day old baby Cockatiel to the group to share the glory of this new, beautifully ugly, amazing little creature with everyone. Diane is excited as this is her first experience of raising these birds and is looking forward to telling everyone about hearing the little peep inside the egg for three days before it hatched.
Carol is livid, and declares that it is nonsense to even consider bringing a bird to group because it is an interruption and takes the focus off the Bible!
Diane is appalled that this young woman, 20 years her junior, would speak to her in such a condescending manner!
Reflective Question 1:
You are a member of this small group, as well as an Elder in this Church.
Realizing that this could very quickly spiral out of control not only between these two women, but also with others taking one person’s side over the other, how would you diffuse this situation in order to keep peace and continue with the evening’s reading?
Reflective Question 2:
You, the Associate Pastor of this Church, are in your office the following morning when Carol storms in and relates the happenings of the previous night. How will you handle this situation?
Reflective Question 3:
We have all experienced something similar to the above scenario. Please give an example of your experience and explain how you could have prevented the loss of friendship.