I was reading a Bible story to Everett the other night, about the disciples fighting over who was most important. His children’s Bible does a great job of making these seem like stories about real people, and somehow it stuck with me in a different way than before.
I kept thinking about how the disciples spent a couple of years living with Jesus, and yet they still messed up quite badly. They walked and talked and ate and did everything with Him, but even so, they were still silly enough to bicker with each other over something ridiculous.
It seems like they should have known better. You’d think that being discipled by JESUS would have better results, right?
But they were still humans making human choices and human mistakes.
So this was all on my mind, and then the next morning I got up to do my devotions, and I just happened to be reading the story in Acts about Paul and Barnabas having a “sharp disagreement”. It was like a parade of biblical conflict.
Again, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Paul was instrumental in spreading the Gospel, and he wrote a huge portion of the New Testament, and yet even he got in a fight with Barnabas. And such a bad fight that they parted ways after having spent all that time together! Good Christians still fight.
I don’t want this to be true. I wish everyone could get along all the time.
Especially my children.
Especially Christians in churches.
But wherever there are people together, there will be people in conflict.
I keep thinking about the old song that goes “…and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” What does love look like – absolutely no conflict or disagreement, ever? That’s what we want it to look like, but I think it looks more like people who still make mistakes, and choose to stick around to clean up the mess, and restore the relationship.
Ben says lots of wise things, but one of my favourite things he’s ever said was one time when I messed up very badly. I said something in a public setting to someone which I should not have said, and I felt horrible. But Ben said, “What matters most is not the mistake you made – it’s what you do next to make it right.”
I’ve carried that with me for 10 years, and it still feels just as powerful and true. It doesn’t mean we’re off the hook and have no responsibility to at least try to live in peace and harmony. That’s the goal we shoot for, but we can also know there is much grace when we fall short.
My darling children are actually yelling and screaming at each other this very moment as I write this, and I reminded to extend more grace to them, too. Sooo much grace. After a weekend at the lake with too many late bedtimes, and a jarring return to Monday routine, we will live on grace today!