One of the most difficult aspects of life in the Body of Christ. . . yet one of the most necessary for our flourishing. . . is loving confrontation. We all need it. When I am derailed or on a quick path to derailment, I need people who love me enough to call me out for being off track and who are willing to push me back on the track. It’s most necessary when I don’t even realize I’m going off the rails. . . or when I’m actively pursuing and even enjoying my life off the rails. And, as part of the Body of Christ, I need to be willing to serve others in the same manner. . . even when it’s difficult and costly.
I’m blessed to have a small group of guys who love me enough that we can have these kinds of conversations. And when we don’t need these kinds of conversations, we remind each other of the need to have them when they are necessary. We invite each other to love each other enough to tell each other the truth. It’s a beautiful thing.
This runs against the grain of everything the Zeitgeist teaches us regarding personal liberty and freedom. But when “be true to yourself” is the sure road to derailment, we need each other to intervene to set us straight. This might be one of the most important lessons parents and youth workers diligently teach our children and teens.
In today’s prayer from his book Everyday Prayers, Scotty Smith reminds us of this with this prayer that I encourage you to read, ponder, and read and ponder some more. . .
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. –Proverbs 27:5-6
Merciful Jesus, I need courage today for loving in sticky, broken, messy relationships. Sometimes the fear of making an even bigger mess makes it easier just to avoid or ignore certain people and issues. But that’s kind of like trying to ignore a compound fracture, skin cancer or a 102 temperature. The matter will only get worse. To say I’m conflict avoidant is not an excuse, but an acknowledgement of weakness and a confession of sin. Grant me, and others like me, the grace we need to love enough to confront.
Thank you for the stark frankness of your Word. When I multiply kisses but withhold life-giving rebukes from my friends, I’m living as their enemy—not merely as a poor lover, but as an enemy. When I’m not willing to offer a redemptive wounding, I’m a bad friend, not just someone suffering from busyness or a lack of priorities. Have mercy on me, Jesus. Grant me, and others like me, the courage and words that we need to love to your glory.
I bring to you my fear of man and love for relational placidity, which I know to be a snare. I confess it as sin and repent. I also acknowledge that I need the truth of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit for change. Jesus, it’s because of your open rebuke that my life is now hidden safely in you. It’s because you clearly revealed my need of your grace that I now rest in your love. It’s because you cared enough to confront me that I will eternally enjoy your comfort and peace.
Jesus, you took the ultimate unfriendly wounding of sin and evil on the cross that we might know your kisses to be those of a Savior-Bridegroom. So very Hallelujah! No greater love can be found anywhere. In the coming days, help me to love well in messy stories among other messy people like me—help me and others like me. Bring the beauty of redemption, reconciliation and restoration. So very Amen we pray, in your compassionate and restorative name.