Friday, April 22, 2016

Touching Base, Part 303

24 April 16
Series: Discipleship - The Life of Being an Apprentice, Pt 2
Relationally Healthy- Part 2

This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching in this series is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

Last week we started a series that will help us define more clearly a key part of our vision, “We will glorify God and make disciples by Responding to the Heart of God and transforming the heart of the City, the Nation and the World”. What does it look like to respond to God’s heart? At Bethel we have developed 5 key statements that help capture the essence of the heart of discipleship. They are broad enough to be inclusive of the vast scope of teaching in the area of discipleship, and yet they are specific enough to be understood as standalone statements.

They are:
• Diligently Seeking God
• Prayerfully Engaged
• Relationally Healthy
• Biblically Measured
• Fully Committed to the Whole Gospel for the Whole World

This morning we continue with part 2- Relationally Healthy.

Big Idea: It’s On Me! (In other words it is on us to take responsibility for relational health)
Our outline is Reckon, Rumble, and Revolution. Our focus today is on revolution. Please read last week’s TB, part 1, which can be downloaded on our website.

Text: Matthew 18:15

1. “If he listens to you, …”

Jesus' words shift the focus from the goer to the receiver. Note the conjunction “if”. There are no guarantees that, even if we reckon and rumble well, that the receiver will receive well. This conjunction may explain why going is so difficult.
- What if she doesn't receive what I have to say?
- What if he has a hissy fit?
- What if I get rejected?
Jesus knows full well the sinful nature of human beings. He knows we don’t always do well with feedback. Thus –“if”
Do you do well with negative feedback?
Do you purr like a kitten or growl like a dog?

Grade yourself - better yet have someone who knows you well do this.

Why can we be lousy receivers?

Here are two suggestions. (I am sure you could add to this)

Blind spot - we have no idea of the offense or sin we have committed and thus, when confronted, we are surprised, taken off guard and perhaps a little defensive.

Hard spot - our hearts are hard, we really don’t care about the sin in our relationship, we have no time for the “goer” coming to us and wasting our time.

I love what BrenĂ© Brown says about this. She calls this “armoring up!”
“As children we found ways to protect ourselves from vulnerability, from being hurt, diminished, and disappointed. We put on armor; we used our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as weapons; and we learned how to make ourselves scarce, even to disappear. Now as adults we realize that to live with courage, purpose, and connection— to be the person whom we long to be— we must again be vulnerable. We must take off the armor, put down the weapons, show up, and let ourselves be seen.” Brown, BrenĂ© (2012-09-11). Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (p. 112). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

How hard can taking off the armor be in a relationship?

Let’s dig a little deeper and see why taking off the armor and being a good receiver can be so difficult.

Two reasons:

- Tethered - Have you ever had a disproportionate emotional response to someone addressing something in your life? Felt like you stepped on a landmine? Sometimes it’s a clue that the issue being addressed could be tethered to something else – something historical that’s unresolved and that occasionally gets triggered in the present. We illustrated this with the suitcase.

- Gaps - Sometimes when we are confronted as Jesus describes in Matthew 18 we fill in the gaps. We come to automatic conclusions that cause us to armor up. Here are some statements that we fill in the gaps with.
“I am not worthy! This conflict is just another example of my unworthiness.”
“I can never do anything right.”
“I knew I should never have trusted.”

Think about how this makes marriage, friendship, Life Groups, work teams difficult! Yikes! We are all guilty!

Once you as the goer have stepped onto a landmine what do you do? Run? Armor up?

I love this quote,
“Perhaps the most important ministry you do today is listening well to someone’s pain all the way to the bottom.”- David Mathis

If you are able you may be the one to follow the pain all the way to the bottom. However, you may realize you are in over your head and the most loving thing to do is direct this person to resources that will help bring them freedom and healing. You may be able to resolve the offense in the relationship, but the most loving thing you could do is encourage them to get to the bottom of the issue with someone more qualified.

2. “If he listens to you, you have gained your brother”

Note in this first step of dealing with sin in a relationship Jesus wants us to see something. He wants us to see the huge up-side of conflict. When the goer goes well and when the receiver receives well there is gain. He was your brother at the beginning of this encounter and at the end, but you have gained your brother. The sin that compromised the relationship or created the tension, distance and loss of joy has been dealt with.

Here are some words that describe how healthy conflict can be a blessing. It can be….
- Restorative
- Healing
- Deepening
- Maturing
- Enlightening
- Sharpening
- Strengthening

How has conflict, dealing with sin in a relationship been a blessing?
How has there been resolution but the relationship has never been the same?

Let me close with two key points of observation.

1. It is not conflict we should fear, it is poor conflict management we should fear. The enemy loves to leverage conflict/sin. But Jesus is saying, God can leverage sin and conflict for His Glory! Thus let’s pay attention to how Jesus tells us to be conflict competent!

2. Sin and conflict is at the heart of the gospel story. The conflict of sin represented by the cross brought about huge blessing. What looked grim and dark and like total defeat produced a REVOLUTION- the risen Christ!

Let’s pray the same for our relationships!
It’s on me and it’s on you to take responsibility and build healthy relationships.

Mark and Rhonda Kotchapaw

For those that want to discuss the other steps in this text regarding dealing with conflict, the following notes have been included.


- Taking “one or two witnesses”
This was in keeping with Old Testament precedents, as in Deuteronomy 19:15.

- What does “tell it to the church” mean?
“What Jesus had in mind for the gathering of believers who should hear about the brother’s sin can he debated. In the first century, where communities were close-knit and the local churches were small house gatherings, everyone would naturally be a party to this problem. Because all might be affected by the brother’s sin, all church members should be warned of its danger. This way, all might be instrumental in helping bring the offender back to righteousness.” Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 293). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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