I would rather have a root canal than knowingly sit next to the brother/sister who has hurt me.

And there we sat side by side at the picnic. It was difficult. My sister in Christ hated my guts at that moment. I just wanted to exit stage left as fast as possible.


I am a “runner”. There, I said it. I am that person who will separate as quickly as possible when there is conflict with another brother or sister in Christ. Give me the person who has deeply wounded me and 100% of the time I emotionally jump out the window when I pass by them again. Frankly, I would rather have a root canal than knowingly sit next to the brother/sister who has hurt me.


The sad fact is that no one in this world hasn’t been deeply injured in his/her relationships to others. This is especially true in the church. That’s why I John 4:7-21 is so challenging:  “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates (works against) his [Christian] brother he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should also [unselfishly] love his brother and seek the best for him.


How does a habit of withdrawal effect one’s spiritual life? Dallas Willard comments in “Renovation of the Heart”: Failure to love others as Jesus loves us chokes off the flow of the eternal kind of life that our whole human system cries out for. The old apostle minced no words: “He who does not love abides in death” (verse 14). Notice that he did not say, “He who hates,” but simply, “He who does not love.” The mere absence of love is deadly. It is withdrawal.”


Is it possible to have this type of courageous love – the type is determined by the grace of God to stick around, rather than flee? Non-courageous love means that I do not extend love toward that difficult brother/sister because of my past issues. I am not letting issues control my feelings. On the contrary, I make a choice to extend love because I allow Jesus to revolutionize my character, my inner being.


This is a change by submission: allowing God to change me from the inside out through my relationship with God. Instead of putting on my running shoes when conflict arises, I allow the character of Christ enter my life. Jesus never ran.

Are you also a “runner”? I remember a congregation where one family was in conflict with another. They always attended the same service, but made sure they sat on opposite sides of the sanctuary. Their spiritual running shoes were always in service. “The mere absence of love is deadly. It is withdrawal.” Jesus love never runs.

Click for more information on how to love well.


Maybe Thomas thought he was righting the world, but I can’t see Jesus bellowing across the Temple because he was not on the “A-List” of singers.

It’s a small church known for in-fighting. On the Elder Board is Thomas, a man knowledgeable in the Scriptures and a self-proclaimed evangelist. Everyone knows him for his beautiful singing voice. Did I mention Thomas makes sure everyone knows what the church policy handbook states? If the church has a rule breaker, Thomas is quickly on the hunt. Also, if you don’t know Thomas, then he makes sure you quickly know all about his latest accomplishments.  

And then there is Delores, an elderly woman who knows her basic Bible, but you could never catch her in a debate among scholars. Delores has a challenging life – multiple health problems, widowed early, and finances are scarce. Despites circumstances, Delores always shows up for church. She made a decision to love her fellow believers well, regardless of how inconvenient the situation is for her. Delores is love personified.

Unfortunately, everyone remembers the last congregational meeting: Thomas’ infamous melt down. He publicly let the congregation know how he was slighted by not being scheduled more frequently as a soloist. As his angry voice bellowed across the sanctuary, the humiliated music director sank lower and lower into the pew. Maybe Thomas thought he was righting the world, but I can’t see Jesus bellowing across the Temple because he was not on the “A-List” of singers.

In contrast to Thomas, Delores loves well. She works hard building relationships with her brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of the cost to her personally. She takes to heart the teachings of the Apostle John in I John 4:7-21: Beloved, let us [unselfishly] love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]. (God loved unselfishly, that is the same type of love we are to display one to another).” Thomas seems to fall into John’s description of “non-lovers”: “The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.

God’s love always shows up. It shows up when believers attend a worship service and stay to have significant conversations with other believers. Church is not a chore to check off on their to-do list. This same love shows up when Christians volunteer in ministries and grow in relationships with other fellow servants. They encourage each other. The identical love shows up when believers get involved in a small group of believers for the purpose of community, even if a small group doesn’t easily fit in their schedule. “Show-up love” comes with a price. It can be very inconvenient.

If you do not have a “show-up” kind of love for your fellow believers, then maybe it is time for a heart check. Thomas thought a heart check consisted of public performance and rules. Jesus’ heart check goes far deeper.  Delores might not have all the answers, but Delores considers it a great privilege to love her brothers and sisters in Christ. Delores’ love always shows up. Are you a Thomas or a Delores? Is it heart check time?

Click to listen to a story of this kind of love

Click for further information on loving one another