By Elton HiggsOur church was bombed last night. Everybody in it was injured; time will tell whether there were any fatalities. I’m sitting in the rubble, stunned at the damage, as I suspect many others are. Even those who were not in the building at the time experienced collateral damage from the bombing. It’s hard to sort out the extent to which any individuals or any group of people were responsible for the damage, but we are all corporately culpable for not adequately defending against it. Although the maker and dropper of the bomb was outside the church, the church had adequate warning of his intentions. Such things are disturbingly ordinary in the history of the Church and its individual congregations, and it’s disturbing that in spite of that instructive history, too few congregations are completely armed to defend against the implacable and always active Enemy.
The physical building occupied by the church is still standing, and passers-by will not see that anything has happened. The destruction was wrought on the spiritual building made up of God’s people. As a part of that group, I share the group’s failure to defend adequately against what happened to us. As I told my wife this morning, I am very tired of dealing with human frailty and inadequacy, including those qualities in myself. In my deep sorrow at what has happened, I feel a desire for God’s release from the battle, since I’ve had such limited success against the Adversary. But even if we are merely survivors of the Enemy’s bomb, as long as we are alive, we must assume that, although God must be as tired of working with us as we are with ourselves, He means for us to continue. The question is, how?
I will speak for myself, and others must judge by the Spirit of God whether my convictions have wider applications.
- First, I must severely examine my own motives and actions and acknowledge any specific instances of manifesting pride, defensiveness, self-righteousness, self-interested slanting of information, or assuming the worst rather than the best in the motives of others.
- Secondly, I must be so saddened by the outcome of all the strife that led to the “bombing” that my governing and overwhelming attitude toward the outcome is deep sorrow for the pain and injury that people on all sides of the issues have experienced. It is incumbent on me to suffer with those who suffer, even if I think that their opinions and motives are wrong. Nobody won last night. We all lost, and the only victor was the Adversary.
- I must try to get past determining who was (or is) right or wrong. In the midst of high emotions and the compulsion to draw clear lines, I must acknowledge that only God knows the hearts and minds of people and can sort out their motivations. And even if I am thoroughly convinced that the evidence supports a clear indictment, I must be careful not to take over either God’s role as judge or the Accuser’s role as prosecuting attorney. If I am obligated to pray for my enemies, how much more must I pray sincerely for a brother or sister whom I believe to be in error.
- Finally, I must not assume that any rupture in fellowship is beyond repair, if the estranged parties submit mutually to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I am not allowed to assume that attempted reconciliation is entirely the responsibility of the person or persons I am at odds with. Whatever led up to it, alienation between God’s people is not something that can be merely accepted as irresolvable. If we take the risk of moving toward mending the breach, God will take it from there.