Are You Building Bridges or Barriers

Without the power of grace, truth and love cant be combined.

— Tim Keller, The meaning of Marriage

The question today is are you building bridges or barriers with your faith?  Have you ever thought about that?

My wife and I facilitate a group of people at Marriage Re-builders at Hosanna Church.  Last week we discussed Conflict Management.  One of the things said last week was  that in arguments, both solvable and perpetual, no one is ever completely right?  The couple doing the presentation went on to give a real-life example of a couple that struggled with their connection and intimacy  for years before, finally,  one of them had an affair.  Yes, you would never excuse the affair, but the one that did not have an affair clearly played a part in the dynamics of what had occurred as well.  I realize a few of you may disagree with that statement but I can’t tell you how may times we have  seen how well couples do in their marriages after both sides take responsibility for their part after recovering from one, two, or multiple affairs in Marriage Re-builders.

So… back to the question…. are you building bridges or barriers with your faith?

One of the dynamics that I fear the most in my Marriage Re-builder groups is couples or people that are very black and white thinkers in their faith.  They use “truth” in a truthless way as they use their faith to brow-beat the other side in what is clearly not a part of Jesus mode of operation (MO).  They have a kind of self-righteous indignation and maybe even have  a victim mentality and they use their faith to prove their point and win arguments.  This “stoutness” to their faith often looks good on paper but, sometimes, plays out poorly in close relationships!     Sue and I run into this on occasion in Marriage Re-builders and we have personally seen how this type of behavior has negatively impacted a marriage  relationship of some close friends of ours!

So …. are you building bridges or barriers with your faith?  Have you taken responsibility for your part?

“It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you’, when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. Matthew 7:3 – 5 (The Message)

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2 thoughts on “Are You Building Bridges or Barriers

  1. Grant

    I’ve recently started exploring some of the Gospel-oriented blogs on the internet. There is a wonderful berth of wisdom to be had.

    I like challenging norms and the opinion, even when I agree. Here’s my jab of a question after this article: if the Gospel is central, does it not have the power to work out these types of marital struggles? (I’m honestly seeking an answer, given my unmarried status.)

    I desire to live a Gospel-centered life such that the Gospel is not used as a solution to problems, but is the mode of perception of the situation before it becomes a problem, the frame of reference through which we view life. It’s a higher ideal than I can attain, but there’s incredible grace that’s “available” to all of us and the Spirit empowers.

  2. centralityofthegospel Post author

    I think your right … if two people keep the Gospel central then they have something that I personally find very rare in relationships. They have a grace and mercy narrative in how they behave toward other sinners and each other. This allows for the safety and freedom to grow spiritually without “white knuckling” their sin and/or just growing by trying harder. This is extremely difficult to do … especially in close relationship. However, this safety, grace, and mercy narrative allows a person to share their thoughts at a much deeper level…. and the output of a gospel-centric is connectedness and intimacy.

    Your right its a frame of reference in how you view all of life! But its a frame of reference that makes all the difference in the world.

    At its core its about where and how you find your righteousness. Once, I went to a thing called Promise Keepers. They really played to “being a man of integrity”. Do I find my righteousness in my performance of being a man of integrity or by being “in Christ”. If I find my righteousness in being a man of integrity then when I mess I up I feel like bad, unworthy person. But when I find my righteousness in what Christ did for me I disapointed but not devastated at my failures. I pick myself up and move on and learn and not live in the self pity of my failures and the mistakes of my past.

    My .02c wirth,

    Jon

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