Sunday, 23 November 2008

Even When It Hurts

In this morning's adult class we looked at Psalm 15, speaking of who may dwell in the LORD's sanctuary. Parts of verses three and four gave me food for thought:
...(he who) has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,
who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts...

Someone raised the point that slander involves speaking lies about another person. But I believe the Christian is held to an even higher standard. Sometimes there are things that, even if true, we should keep to ourselves. We can cast slurs even if what we say about another might be true. Let's say we have been wronged in some way by another, even a brother or sister in Christ. And let's say even that our complaint is legitimate. Matthew 18 gives us instructions for resolving conflicts in the church, but whether the situation is resolved or not, we must let it go. It is not up to us to grumble, or even hint at in casual conversation, how badly we have been treated. I was reminded by a recent post on Dave Groff's blog of Ephesians 4:29,
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

No matter how justified we might feel, or how wronged we might feel ouselves to have been, or how right our case against the other, we are commanded by the Apostle Paul to speak only what will build others up, not tear them down.

And this brings me to the last part of my quote from Psalm 15,
...who keeps his oath even when it hurts...

As Christians, I believe that keeping an oath also refers to our obeying the word of God. Not only are we to refrain from all speech that does not build others up, we are not to, "go public" with our disputes.

I believe this applies to the current disputes within the Anglican Church of Canada, where various dioceses are taking congregations to court (over Church properties) who have opted to join the Anglican Network in Canada under the oversight of the Province of the Southern Cone. It should be well known that my sympathies lies squarely with the Network in these disputes. I link to them below. But I believe they should not be involved in these legal disputes, even as the, "passive" party. Why? Because these proceedings are being held in front of unbelievers, and even just defending oneself, being the party under attack, if you like, becomes part of the spectacle of what the world sees as Christians divided amongst themselves. Now I realize I have the luxury here of not being involved in one of these disputes. I have the luxury of not having to see the building in which I have worshipped, perhapes all my life, being claimed by what I see (rightly I might add) as an apostate organization. But these are just buildings, which is more than the most vibrant Church of all time, the first century Church, had. I realize I may draw the ire of my brothers and sisters who are the victims of these litigations, but I believe they should just walk away. As Paul said, "Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?"

The one who would dwell in the LORD's sanctuary, who would live on His holy hill is the one who, "keeps his oath... even when it hurts."

Take Care


Warren said...

My heart is with you - although I have much sympathy for those who aren't willing to roll over in the face of the ACoC's efforts to claim all property occupied by ANiC congregations. What really surprises me is that you haven't drawn any other comments.

John K said...

You may be the only other person who reads this blog. Or maybe I'm on some kind of blacklist. ;)

Warren said...

Maybe it was the discussion about politically incorrect cars.