Sometimes you just don't get along with other people. Sometimes people reject you.
Crazy, isn't it?
You may be around them this next week at a Christmas party, and those extended family members, friends, or co-workers may flash a smile while they plot their next jab. You may encounter them in the neighborhood because they have different opinions than you do about exterior aesthetics or interior household dynamics. Or it may be people you once were in connection with would rather be disconnected from you.
When my kids have a problem with each other, I tell them to work it out. It's a basic principle... "We're family, and while you may be mad or disagree with each other your relationship is intended for health. So slow down and go work it out. That's who we are, and that's what we do."
As their father, that's my plan for them - and it pleases me when they live it out. I also take action and appropriately discipline them when they don't.
Kind of like how God, our Father, says the same, feels the same and does the same. In fact, Jesus once said through a parable in Matthew 18 that the measure by which we reconcile or don't reconcile will be applied to us.
We're not just pushing away a person because we're "tired" of working on something - we're rejecting a command from our Father.
We're pushing back on our Father.
It's ironic how adults seem to ignore this principle more than we encourage kids to follow it. I am constantly amazed at how there are so many commands and teachings of God we accept, but when it comes to working things out with another person we opt for the world's method to "agree to disagree."
The Bible contains only a few instances where people of God part ways, and even these are descriptions of what happened to them and not intended prescriptions for us. It's clear all throughout Scripture that God's ideal is for people to work things out - so what happens when you deal with some kind of tension or rejection?
- Seek God: Don't ask others for advice or follow your gut. Seek first God and His Kingdom by reading one of the most ignored passages by Christians: Matthew 18:13-35. Then follow it in the spirit of Proverbs 3:5-6.
- Reach out: You may be rejected from the other end, from unreturned phone calls to unanswered correspondence. Do the right thing even if it's one-way - reach out and keep the door open.
- Trust in God’s sovereignty: According to Romans 8:28, God can weave anything into a plan that serves His best interest and your good. So basically God’s got your back... and while you can't control what the other person is doing, you can trust that the Lord is working on their heart. What else do you really need?
Remember, Christmas is about God coming near... so don't pull back. Instead, take a cue from Jesus who came to bless those who would curse Him and move toward the person you have tension with - even yet another step - until you're past the high winds of the tornado and in the center where you can find peace.
And if by chance you're the one who won't work things out, the Father does care. Don't be surprised if He disciplines you... be it a "time out" or a "spanking" in some area of life. Why not instead honor Him right now and sit down with a fellow family member whom you have had tension with?
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make your paths straight."I have at least one more thought on this. Look for Pt 2 tomorrow.