Taking Risks: Response and Reconciliation
We talked a bit about the uncomfortable nature of conflict and confrontation in the last post. It is clear why so many of us attempt to avoid it. But when confrontation is inevitable, or when we are confronted and held accountable for our own actions, what do we do? It is so easy to get defensive or aggressive when we feel like we are being cornered. It is so easy to get caught in this trap, especially when we feel entitled to make the decisions we did. But rather than falling into this trap and turning the situation into a shouting match, there are a couple of things that we should do as a Christian response.
First, when someone points something out to us, we should listen. We need to hear the other person and not jump on their words as they deliver them. It is important as people of faith to exercise self-control and to approach the situation with humility. We must do our best to remain open and receptive to what the other person is saying so that we can be reflective and practice discernment. When we show others respect, even in confrontation, we can also de-escalate the situation.
Second, it is important for followers to remember that our brothers and sisters desire the best for us. We hold each other accountable because we are called to do so. Galatians 6:1-2 tells us this, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” If we think about confrontation this way, we might be able to adjust our response accordingly. When we are faced with such confrontation, it can be helpful to remember that others are not calling us out to be contrary or to elevate themselves over us. Rather, they are coming alongside us in Christ’s love and helping us be aware of things in our life that maybe we haven’t seen before.
2 Samuel 12 says,
The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, ‘There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.’ David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.’ Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan replied, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.'”
David had not only committed adultery, but he tried to cover it up with murder. He was the God-anointed King of Israel. But even then, he was not above the law given to the people by God. He was confronted with truth, which must have been difficult for Nathan. But, nevertheless, Nathan knew that his king, who was a servant of the Lord, needed to be confronted. He needed to approach him and help keep him accountable. Accountability transcends rank, position, or status. There is never a point in which one is above the standard God has set for us. It is a matter of love and humility to be able to give and receive these moments and handle them with grace.