believe me, it happens. I’ve seen it from all sides. churches that unraveled. families that split. folks that haven’t spoken in decades. I hate it every time. It can get dirty. And it always hurts.
In fact, seeing unresolved conflicts from those who claim the name of Christ was part of the reason that I walked away from God 10 years ago. I figured if God wasn’t big enough to keep his people in line, He wasn’t a God that I wanted to worship. I wanted a big God, and that didn’t seem “big” to me. Some of the conflicts have hit very close to home for me. Growing up, my family left several churches over “unresolvable” issues. I have close family members that have not spoken to each other in years…and in some instances, even decades. I’ve had to forgive folks who have severely hurt me. The hurts are real. The pain is deep. There’s not an easy answer. And it’s easy to see the depth of hurt and pain and to lose hope.
But I forget God is at work behind the scenes, even in situations that seem to not be improving at all. I forget that my perspective is limited and He knows the beginning from the end. I forget that in spite of sin, He can be glorified. And this past week, I’ve been pushed again to pray for reconciliation in my family like never before.
Part of that “pushing” came through the public announcement that CJ Mahaney, President of Sovereign Grace Ministries was stepping down. It seems that it came to a head over the past year or so as Brent Detwiler, a former pastor within Sovereign Grace, sent documents to CJ asking for a public apology for certain sin patterns Brent observed. This is one of the issues that has hit close to home for me. I came to know Christ through Sovereign Grace Ministries, which was founded by CJ, and many of CJ’s sermons over the past 7 years have been used by God to teach me how to truly live out what I believe. But Brent preached the sermon that God used to arrest my heart and save me 7 1/2 years ago, and has been pivotal in several specific areas of my life. I have great respect for both of these men. God has used both greatly, not only in my life, but in thousands of Christians around the world. I’ve spent the past week reading the story from both sides and praying for not only these two, but all parties involved in the reconciliation process.
My heart is heavy but excited. I hate conflict. But I believe that both CJ and Brent love God. Both of them seem to be seeking true reconciliation with each other and that is very exciting. God is at work. God is doing something. He is big enough to resolve unresolved issues. I’ve seen it before. When folks look at Christians, i think it is honestly more of an impact for them to see genuine, honest people, instead of the appearance of perfection. Christians fight and disagree at times, but how they resolve issues is the important matter… Christ has changed our hearts, and that changes our actions.
I look forward to the example of these two men as I observe this from a distance. He can be glorified by how they walk through this. But more importantly for me, He can be glorified for how I walk through this. Its easy for my heart to want to pick sides. Its easy to become so wrapped up in every e-mail, every announcement, every detail that I miss the bigger picture… God is doing something great here… through difficult circumstances. And I like seeing God at work.