Response time matters in emergencies. It also matters in non-emergencies, because the time it takes you to get through a grocery line, wait in traffic, or fix a meal impacts other plans and responsibilities you have. Sometimes a fast response is essential. Sometimes, to give or expect an immediate response is premature, invasive, and inconvenient.
It’s important to invite God to determine the best response time when you’re dealing with issues among your church family. Let God tell you when and how to respond instead of your default comfort settings becoming the driving force. You might prefer to let things simmer for a while and see what the impact will be before addressing the issue, but carefully listen to God’s promptings. He might agree with you, but it’s also possible that he knows if you approach a particular person right away, the behind-the-scenes whispers will be quieted and the eventual roar will be eliminated with the early action. On the other hand, you might prefer to jump in and solve issues right away, and while that might be the best option at times, God will also encourage you to wait at times, because he knows approaching the hot fire will cause the flames to burn higher and hotter, making it more visible and dangerous for those otherwise unaffected.
Responding isn’t about your preference or comfort. God knows what’s best. Responding in his time is what matters, because he knows everyone involved, including yourself, much better than you do. Response time matters because people matter. Response time matters because your relationship with God matters.
Listen to Jesus’ instructions to his disciples—and us—about responding to others. Be sensitive to his leading and trust him. God knows best.
If the people in a certain place refuse to welcome you or listen to you, leave that place. Shake its dust off your feet as a warning to them. (Mark 6:11)
But I say to you who are listening, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Show mercy, just as your Father shows mercy. (Luke 6:27, 36)
God’s family is certainly not exempt from hurt, including the hurts that come from within. People in churches are just as vulnerable to unjustly criticize, gossip, neglect, and offend one another as anyone else. It’s true that God sets us apart to reflect his image to the world, but to believe Christ-followers are perfect representations of Jesus will, to say the least, lead to disappointment. What (should) set Christ-followers apart from the world is how they deal with one another to heal the hurt. Will they do the hard work it takes to unite or will they further divide into quarreling, backbiting, judgmental factions? Which will you choose? This is the final post of Healing the Hurt, a 10-post series to help hurting communities cope in biblical ways.