There has been a thought upon my heart for a long time and I believe it is time that I write about it. The reason I haven’t written about it sooner is simply because I was not ready to. Sometimes we need time to heal from wounds, grow from experiences or learn a lesson from a trial. In this case, for me, it’s all three. Before I begin, I must say that Proverbs 18:24b is more true to me personally more than ever before, “…there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Jesus Christ has proven Himself to be that friend to many, myself included. Grant it, He doesn’t have to do so, yet He does. Thank you Lord!
There are many reasons people drift apart in families, friendships and yes, even in church. Maybe we allow our jobs to consume more time than we ought, therefore our time at church suffers. In doing so, our fellowship with other believers will, of course, also suffer. Many don’t realize how detrimental this is until it is usually, too late. Many are so busy making a living, that they have no idea how to live the brief life that God has so graciously provided. Maybe we allow our hobbies to consume our time, thereby we get so busy having fun that we miss out on the joy of serving God. It’s amazing that some people do more for God when they were lost than they do after they’re saved. It’s a grand example of abusing God’s grace. You see, before they were saved they lived by a code of works, but after being saved they now claim the grace and mercy of God and continue to put off serving, thereby abusing it. Maybe we allow worldly connections to pull us away from God and His people. We may find more joy in the pleasure sin provides, rather than the pleasure the Spirit provides. Maybe we become pleased with our own self worth, self achievements or even sadly our own self righteousness. We become content with mediocre Christianity, if there is such a thing. These are all perfectly good examples of what causes people to drift from God, as well as drift apart from those they once fellow-shipped with regularly. However, these are the ones that are on my mind tonight.
There is another reason, I believe, people drift from God and drift from one another and that is trials. When a person goes through a spiritual storm many things happen:
1) They become clouded in their judgment
2) They make bad decisions
3) They become victims of the judgment of others
4) They draw others into their storm
5) They get hurt and cause hurt
6) Others, not understanding, lash out in anger
7) Reputations, along with relationships become strained
I’m sure much more could be listed, but I think the point is made. When trials are not responded to properly and I mean Biblical, then nothing good can come from it. Sure, over time we hope things will be corrected, but how much time is wasted and how many lives are dramatically changed, because one or more acted/reacted contrary to the word of God? Jesus gave clear instructions on how to handle disagreements and conflict. Paul wrote on how to restore those who have been overtaken in a fault. Yet, it seems professing Christian after professing Christian refuses to apply the principles provided. Hence, damage and sometimes irreversible damage is caused. This, in turn, causes a drifting to take place.
“Forgive and forget,” is the ole adage, but is that possible, nay is that even wise? I heard something recently that goes something like, “Scars tell you where you’ve been, not where you’re going.” Scars have a two-fold perspective: 1) You’ve been hurt and 2) You’ve healed. Now, even though you’re healed there is a reminder left behind. This reminder tells us to not repeat the same mistake again. It is here that I want to say that not all drifting is necessarily a bad thing. I mean, it isn’t the end of the world as we know it, unless we are continually drifting from God. Let me explain further…if you and I are involved in a situation where one of us reacts badly, maybe even over dramatically, then the other may develop a sense that to avoid it from happening again, a boundary must be established. This boundary is not to diminish the fellowship, but rather to protect it. This is why we say that some distance it good, even between those who were once close. Sometimes, even God will bring distance between His children to protect them from hurting one another again. A good shepherd, and Christ certainly is the Good Shepherd, knows when to separate the sheep. Sometimes they may even need to be traded to another flock.
Sometimes people try to pretend that something never happened or think, “I’m sorry” is supposed to fix everything. However, this isn’t always the case and lines, boundaries or fences must be established to prevent any more harm. If not, the same ole thing will just keep happening. It even gets worse when things are not worked out properly. Apologies are fine, but without open discussion between the parties involved, trust can never be reestablished and the fellowship may remain broken.
If any of this hits home, then I implore you to seek God’s wisdom on how to address the issue, because if it hasn’t been addressed, I assure you it is unresolved. However, if you were the offending party, have apologized, but feel the other party is distant, remember the reason they’re distant is probably to refrain from the same offense taking place once again.
Until He comes again…