It can be hard to be rid of wounds. Many physical ones heal with scars, though the deeper body ones may not heal well. For most of us, the emotional and spiritual wounds are the ones with deep and lasting effects. These are the ones that can hold us back; they can also be the ones that drive us forward. When our loved ones are wounded, often our response is heightened due to our desire to protect them and our subsequent failure to do so. We, then, may react toward them in ways that may seem unwise or over the top.
Elisha’s response to Joram (or Jehoram) may have been a bit harsh. Elisha was the spiritual son of Elijah as the inheritor of the prophetic position. Joram was the son of Ahab. Elijah and Ahab had a poor relationship. Horrible relationship might be more appropriate. Elijah lived much of his life in fear of Ahab. That likely deeply affected Elisha’s response to Joram. Even prophetic people are human.
Although it often seems impossible to live beyond our pains or the pains of our loved ones, we are still called to do it. Will we fail? More often than not. Yet, often it is only through the striving to move beyond the pain that we can begin to heal and gain new perspectives.
We bring our hurts with us everywhere we go, including church. In fact, one of the biggest reasons people leave a church (or the church or the faith) is because people at church hurt them. The reality is that the church proportionally contains as many hurt people as the world…100%. How we deal with the hurts should be what separates Christian behavior from the world’s behavior.
We should be honest…Christian behavior in this regard is often worse than the world’s. The world has put systems into place to mitigate some of it. It still misses a lot of it. Across the denominational landscape (i.e., in no way limited to a single tradition or denomination), the church has done a horrible job. Whether it is the burying and hiding of failures or the annihilation of the failed, the church has left a large body count in its wake.
Paul’s words to the Colossians aren’t just to a “church”, it is to individuals. One of the biggest mistakes we in/of the church make is thinking in institutional terms, rather than individual terms. This is very peculiar as the primary Western expression of Christianity is all about individual salvation, individual sin (for repentance and salvation). Yet, we are quick to move to an institutional framework when it (even just) might require us to deal with the failures of another.
There is a huge piece of personal responsibility. There is a huge piece of institutional responsibility. Institutions are made of individuals, so it still comes down to individuals. How we are formed by each other and the Scriptures will play a significant part of how we deal with things. Though, the hardest part is not running away every time, and yet—after doing the hard work—there is a time to leave.
The peace of one body is hard to achieve. Paul commends sing psalms and worship songs to one another. That “to” is interesting. Our worship songs are “to” God (as they should be as reflections of praise, adoration, and thanksgiving). It would be nice to know which songs and psalms Paul meant. It does mean though that we are to work on one another in the love of Christ. It also means, that we are to allow ourselves to be worked on, which often means our pains and hurts come out. What we do with ours and those of others may well reflect how much we really let the Holy Spirit renovate our hearts.
- What worship songs (of any era) or psalms would you think of to sing to others to help form them in the image of Christ?
- When it comes to conflict how do you deal with it at home, at work, extended family, socially, at church? How do you respond when you witness conflict at each of these places?
- How do Paul’s words affect your responses, or your future responses, to conflict?