“I sat down in the booth for lunch, anxious and excited to finally spend some “chat” time with the Women’s Ministry Director from my church, where I have taught Bible study for years. To my devastation, this meet up was made under false pretense because she began by sharing an accusation made against me by three women in my Bible study group. I sat stunned, my heart breaking into a thousand pieces. I was condemned and was being disciplined for something I never was asked about and was completely hit with these accusations in utter surprise. And to top it off, they were inaccurate. I was condemned, deceived and reprimanded without anyone seeking to hear my perspective.”
I (Lynn) nearly wept as I listened to this woman share her story. She changed church association after more than 20 years because of this great error and unbiblical rendering of a verdict and punishment.
What grieves me and then makes me angry is, well, many things. The meeting's purpose, which was initiated by the PASTOR of women, was a lie. The accusations brought were made in secret by unknown accusers at the time, deemed accurate, and moved upon to punish without first speaking to the Bible study leader. What really grieves me is that even after this “so called meeting,” there was no going back even after a reasonable explanation was given. This poor woman was told that her "perceived" error had reached the highest level of church leadership.
Are you kidding me?
In honesty, if this is true? Where was the pastor to meet with this woman and find the truth? Where were the elders to sort out this mess? Because this not only impacted this poor woman, but her husband, and family, everyone who was part of her Bible study group, the church she left. It’s impacted me and now thousands more are reading about this encounter.
Do you think the devil won this round?
The reality of this mess was there were three young woman who disagreed with this seasoned bible study leader about some area of doctrine. Instead of meeting with her to ask her to further explain her position, offer scripture, even talk it out and agree to disagree, all of this went down in secret conversations and back office meetings and phone calls. And the issue of doctrine in the end wasn’t really an issue. The Bible study leader wasn’t asked to leave the church. She was told that she could continue to lead but they would “supply” her content from this day forward. Was this a violation of love?
Okay, I’m sharing this very real scenario because it happens all the time in churches all over the nation. Really, I’ve seen it happen. It’s happened in our SUM Community. Just recently a woman fired off a couple of harsh emails to tell me that I'm unequally yoked because I posted something about Mother Teresa.
We don’t need to worry about attacks from the atheists when we have this going on within our own family. And don’t think for a moment that we aren’t being raised to be a family. We are. We retain our personalities and traits in heaven, thus, on earth we MUST learn forgiveness, restoration, trust and proper conflict resolution.
Thus, Jesus taught us about conflict resolution t in Matthew 18.
Let’s take a look at the verse 15 where Jesus speaks to this very issue. (Note: this verse is specific to sin, but can be applied to this situation and many others within church.)
Correcting Another Believer (NLT)
If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. —Matthew 18:15
Did this woman’s discipline experience meet this criteria? Where is the first mistake?
Now the BIG questions. Have you suggested sin or error against someone behind their back? Or through a slanted comment on social media? Perhaps a prayer request to others that mentions another believer with whom you have a conflict?
I will assume we all have acted outside of this passage of scripture. So, on Monday let’s talk about what a healthy conflict resolution looks like and what happens if you try but can’t resolve your issues, that is in the next verse.
So, in the comments, what do you think went wrong. What do you perceive was the first right step to manage this conflict by the words Jesus taught? See you there. Hope its lively conversation because we need to figure this out. And if you have walked this passage out in success in your life, share the story. We all need positive examples of how this passage is applied to real life. Thank you.
Love you my friends. We are going to learn this process and then teach it to many, many others and transform our churches, homes, our marriages. In Jesus name. Amen.