We started out by asking people “What is your go-to response to when you feel like you have been wronged?” Here is what people said:
- Get back at them in court (litigation/revenge)
- “fix” it/them (not in a nice way)
- Forgive but not forget
- Ghost the person (ignore the person and don’t answer emails/texts/calls)
- Karma (bad things will come back around)
You can listen in to our teaching time below. We introduced the idea of something called the “Rule of Christ,” as an alternative practice to our go-to responses to conflict.
The Rule of Christ is based on something Jesus said, words recorded in the Gospel of Matthew.
““If your brother or sister (someone in this family) sins against you, go to them and show them their fault. But do it privately, just between yourselves. If they listen to you, you have won your brother or sister back. But if they will not listen to you, take one or two other people with you, so that ‘every accusation may be upheld by the testimony of two or more witnesses,’ as the scripture says. And if they will not listen to a couple people, then tell the whole thing to the church. Finally, if they will not listen to the church, treat them as though they were a pagan or a tax collector.”
– Matthew 18:15-17 GNT (inclusive language revised by randy)
Rule of Christ Recap (from the above recording):
Jesus Says when you have been wronged by someone in your church family you should follow 4 steps. If a step doesn’t resolve the issue you move on to the next step.
- Talk to the person yourself. Do this first. Do it privately. Don’t turn it into gossip. Give this person the benefit of the doubt by going to them directly.
- Get Objective Help. Ask a couple trusted people in the church to go with you so you can try again. This time there will be witnesses who can bring some objectivity to the situation.
- Take it to the Church. In the modern context this would be the church leadership (at The Commons that is the Cohort) the people who are responsible for the community to be safe and life giving. This isn’t a “public airing of grievances.”
- Let the Person Go. There are definitely lots of examples of this being done in very hurtful and harmful ways. Ways that grieve the very spirit of God. So I need you to extend some grace to this conversation as we unpack it over the next couple months.For right now we need to keep a couple different possible scenarios in mind when we are talking about this extreme step:
Safety Concerns come first. There are times when someone is a legitimate safety concern to people in a church. Yes we want to extend grace but not at the expense of people who might be vulnerable.
What about all the other messy situations that don’t involve safety? We have no shortage of many subtle ways to hurt ourselves and the communities we are a part of. In these less extreme but still harmful cases there is a different kind of “Letting Go.” Letting someone go after this long series of heart to heart conversations is really something that goes on inside ourselves “informally releasing someone from your heart, and your accountability, and acknowledging that they belong to God first.” In doing this you may find yourself around this person more often rather than less but the dynamic of the relationship has shifted. You are no longer peers, you are no longer brothers or sisters, you are suppose to treat them like pagans & tax collectors. That is a very strange thing to say, because Jesus the Son of God loved to hang out with tax collectors, so this is not a straight forward process.
Possible Results at any step:
- Misunderstanding cleared up
- they didn’t know they had caused any harm,
- you recognize your own mistake,
- forgiveness is asked/offered,
- you work on how not to repeat this.
Exploring the Rule of Christ as a Core Practice:
Please extend some grace to this conversation, let’s give ourselves permission to learn from what Jesus is saying here even if it has sometimes been expressed badly in the past by others or even ourselves.
What I think is really important here for us as we start to explore The Rule of Christ as a Core Spiritual Practice is the order. This model is very different than many of our original go-to responses to conflict. My hope would be that we could learn from this Core Practice (this Rule of Christ) in a way that helps us be a church community that lives a little further into being a community of Jesus Followers. People who are committed enough to our relationships with each other that we aren’t afraid to talk face to face when we have been hurt, to be authentic and not hide from problems. To lean into our relationships when things get hard so we can move towards being creative peacemakers who actively seek out healing & reconciliation. People who are quick to extend grace & forgiveness to our family of Jesus Followers.
This is so important because the Church isn’t a building. It isn’t a club. It’s not a band. It’s not even meant to be a group of friends. Church is an intentional family, and being a healthy family takes practice and it takes work.