Saturday morning, the Facebook app on my Blackberry got stuck. It seemed the best solution to rectify the problem was to uninstall it and then re-install it. No problem, that’s exactly what I did, or so I thought. After re-installing, I went to log in and got the message “unable to connect to the server at this time.” Ok, it’s probably just busy so I tried again a few minutes later and got the same thing. Hmmm, what was going on here? I tried unsuccessfully throughout the day, and kept getting the same thing, making repeated attempts at uninstalling and re-installing. Nothing! Grrrr Well, it seemed to me that some action was needed here. Obviously, something is not working right and somebody needs to fix it. I really didn’t care who, whether that be RIM or T-mobile or whoever. I just wanted my app to work. Well actually, I was annoyed at RIM and T-Mobile. It seemed to me they should be making better products. I mean, this was no way to treat a consumer. Right?
After service on Sunday, I fiddled with again. But this time, I took a moment to try a different perspective. Perhaps, I can go to the app page and there might be some information there. So as I again, uninstalled and re-installed I took a moment to examine carefully if there’s something that maybe I missed. Sure enough, I had missed the instructions that said successful installation will require rebooting. That could only happen if I took the battery out and disconnected from it. Ahhh. Problem solved.
The irony of this little frustrating mishap, is that all the while during this time, I had been engaged in an escalating dispute with a dear sister. Apparently, I had offended her through a disagreement in an on-line discussion, one in which hindsight has clarified I should have stayed out of. We had a series of exchanges. Each time I tried to explain my position, it only fueled the offense. I couldn’t win. But I kept trying. Before long, my buttons were pushed, I reacted and bluntly so! There really wasn’t any resolution but to “disconnect”.
It strikes me that as long as people interact with each other, there are going to be misunderstandings and offenses. It’s really kind of unavoidable. It would be nice to think that just because we are Christians and encouraged with the words of scripture to exchange brotherly love, there might be some challenges in our ability to do so. Because behind every saint is a person who has opinions, wounds, personality bents, perspectives and vulnerabilities. We are still all very broken people no matter how much we would like to believe otherwise (Paul Tripp posted a really good article on this today). We offend, we are offended, we react, we project and we expect. We want the other person to see our point of view. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we are wronged and sometimes we are wrong. Sometimes, we are both wrong.
I’ll be the first to confess that I can be a jerk sometimes, stubborn and resistant to overlook my over-inflated sense of reason. And yeah, sometimes I’m right and stepped on. It happens to all of us. In fact, another irony in all of this, was that the dispute caused me to reflect on my own behavior just months prior with another sister, who despite trying to reason with me, all I saw was the offense and I couldn’t get past it. We “disconnected”. Ironically, she had been on my mind anyway so upon reflection of this whole incident, I quickly sent her a note to “re-boot”. It was quite refreshing reconnecting with her.
And that leads to my point of the lesson learned from the Facebook app. Sometimes, we are so concerned with resolution that we overlook the necessity to disconnect. The more we try to force our way and make sure the other party sees their wrong, the more likely the whole thing will blow up in our face. I think there is also a similar lesson from Acts 15:36-41, and the dispute between Paul and Barnabas concerning John Mark. How long did they argue before they realized it was a losing battle? I gather from the passage, not long. And I’m pretty sure that both of them were convinced they were right! It should give us some perspective that for the sake of Christian unity, the best solution might be to break away for a bit. Use that time to examine, reflect and ask the primary question “Lord is it me?’ When we are wronged, or feel wronged, that is a very tough answer to see.
And I propose that Christian unity is what is at stake. Paul and Barnabas understood that. There was a bigger picture to consider than our right to be right and the insistence that the other person understand their wrong. It is better sometimes to walk away, even if temporarily, lest our disagreement impinges upon the demonstration of brotherly or sisterly love as a reflection of being Christ’s disciples. That can’t happen in the midst of heated or otherwise ugly interactions. In fact, I would say sometimes it is necessary for that church to split if it means displaying disharmony before the world.
Following Paul’s prescription in Philippians 2:1-4, considering the other person as better than ourselves does require that we do what is in their best interest not ours for the sake of community. If we are wronged, that means we’ll have to be wronged. After all, isn’t that what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:7 that for the sake of unity, it is better to be wrong? If we are wrong, we need to face that but sometimes that is not readily understood since all we see is the offense.
So my encouragement with this post is not to let disagreements or interactions get out of hand. Know when to walk away. Don’t throw yourself in situations where you know it will not be compatible, where there will be division and animosity. And don’t be a stumbling block to your brother or sister regardless of how much you might feel you’re correct. Just let it go. There is much at stake in the name of Christ.
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.” (Psalm 133:1)