Confrontation is one of the banes of my existence. I hate it with a passion, but I know it is a vital and important part of the church. So I have to tell you to give some grace to those around you. I was reading through 2 Peter and in the letter Peter refers to Paul as his beloved brother. That was such a fascinating tidbit to me because of the strife and contention that had been between Peter and Paul.
We get a couple of accounts of what happened between the the two between the book of Acts and through the letters of Paul. There was a major dispute between the two concerning circumcision, grace, and eating with gentiles/jews. It had been so forceful that some of the people in the church were not allowed to fellowship with one another because of this. When Paul heard that this was going on, and even began to fall in that sin as well, Paul had to do something about it. Paul said I opposed them to his face! I can image Paul being stern and harsh, especially in light of the revelation that Peter had received from God concerning some of these issues previously. But if we fast forward we get Peter writing those words again, my beloved brother. My beloved brother. In whatever strife and argument they had, they remained linked, sharing a brotherhood, a love cultivated by the gospel. In the disagreement they had, one was humbled to repentance and the other most likely edified by the embracing of the true gospel of Christ to the glory of God.
Think about it though. There is not a side I would want to be on in this situation (except I would like to walk in the truth). Because having to speak truth to your neighbor is never easy. Especially when it is a truth that a person doesn’t want to hear. And the other side is just as equally challenging. It is so hard to hear those biting words of criticism because who wants to be wrong (that’s the one I would choose if I had to, to be right!)
So three things I believe we can learn from this so we might grow into a greater relationship with Jesus. 1) Be humble with one another when reproof or correction is needed. We don’t have all the answers and we surely are not perfect. But remember in doing this we do it out of love because that is the ultimate reason we are making ourselves vulnerable in coming to a brother or sister. 2) If you are being corrected, accept it humbly. At least give the opportunity for the words to be said, for you to hear it and see if there is merit to the accusation through the Spirit and His word. In doing so we create a space for growth and grace in the community. 3) Seek reconciliation out of a love for the community. This is on the highest level. Jesus himself said don’t bring your offering to God unless you are reconciled with your neighbor.
This is the goal of the church. We want to look like Christ individually and wholly. The only way this can happen is through loving edification and reproof. May you seek to edify the body and stir her to the image of Christ as well as be stirred so that we might be beautiful pictures of who Christ is and how he loves.