Churchy Cold Shoulders.
God’s people are so precious. Even the ones you don’t like very much. Even the ones who have harmed you. Even the ones who you believe deserve nothing from you but a cold shoulder – or worse.
Jesus says handle them with love.
Jesus says handle them with the same love that He loves us with.
In Matthew 5:44-45 Jesus commands us to pray for those who hurt us. He is not saying, pray that they leave you alone or that they go away, but pray for them, genuinely! The funny thing is that you cannot genuinely pray for someone without loving that person. Because in order to lift someone up to throne of grace in prayer, you have to have their best interests in mind.
As we pray for them, we also pray that we might see the wrong we may have done to them, we pray for forgiveness for any resentment or bitterness we hold toward them, we ask the Lord to remove the root of bitterness in us and we pray for reconciliation with them. And the crazy, mind blowing, dimension altering thing about this is that as we pray genuinely for someone, and as we dig up the root of bitterness in our own soul, we will discover that our love for that person will push through the soil of our soul and bud….and as it is watered in prayer our love will blossom not only in continued prayer but in action as well.
And let me warn you, at first you will resist. Bitterness is a foul poison!
I want to hate that person!
He hurt me!
He is a Jerk!
He deserves to get my cold shoulder!
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
This is not just about him.
It is about you as well.
Have you prayed for him?
More than once?
Praying is the most loving thing we can do for those who harm us. The apostle Paul warns us in Romans 12 not to take revenge on those who harm us. He says to leave all that vengeance stuff to God. That includes our churchy cold shoulders. Instead he admonishes us to payback evil with good. What? How? If someone has wronged you, instead of giving them the cold shoulder, invite them for dinner. Not just once, but two, three, four times, …77 times. I get that we are all broken people. If he is an unrepentant scoundrel or a proverbial fool, perhaps you will have to excommunicate him from your life until he shows genuine fruit of repentance. However, we must always be willing to forgive once that fruit of repentance is shown, so as far as it depends on you, put away resentment and bitterness and live at peace with each other.
Go out of your way to say, “Hi,” on Sunday morning.
Send a card.
Do something nice without expecting anything in return.
Jesus didn’t turn his back on us and give us the cold shoulder when we messed up…He died for us, He sought us, He loved us, and He commands that we love others the same. As the old kid’s song says, we are all precious in his sight. Including Mr Jerky Face McAngry Guy…
I mean, what is our faith worth if this is not a reality in our lives? Don’t take the easy road and let yourself off the hook by piously admitting that you are weak and that you are learning to grow in this area. That is a pitiful excuse. We are all weak, we are all learning to grow in this area. Beware of bitterness disguising itself as piety.
We must pray! We are children of the most high God, we have the power that raised Christ from the dead dwelling in us! In the strength he provides…we can rid ourselves of the root of bitterness and pray genuinely for that precious person, and in so doing we will watch love bud and blossom in us for them by God’s grace.