Is it OK for Christ followers to simply, ‘Disappear without Dialogue?’
Or, as I heard a friend put it the other day, â€˜Bail without Conversation?â€™
Iâ€™m referring to handling conflict via the silent treatment. One of the most popular reactions to tension and hurt is to simply, â€˜write people off.â€™ You know, cut your loses, move on, consolidateâ€”you get the picture. The other day someone was telling me how they felt they had been written off as a friend simply because they told the truth.
Now I understand that this reaction is hardly a revolutionary response, but thatâ€™s not really the issue. The issue isâ€¦
Is the silent treatment a legitimate response for Christians?
And the answer is, No.
No way. What if Jesus moved on from you every time you acted like a moron? I know for me it would be easier for Jesus to simply stay awayâ€”I act so foolishly at times. But God doesnâ€™t do this and I for one am glad. Actually, He even goes one step further. He gives us a pattern we can follow for those times when conflict between another bother or sister in Christ arises. These steps for resolution are found in the gospel of Matthew, the 18th chapter.
If someone offends youâ€”you go to them first (not their friends, not your computer, not instant message, not facebook, and not to anything or anyone else!). If they refuse to listen, take a witness or two with you for accountability and to keep the whole thing on track.
Still no go? Finally we are told to try and resolve it with the elders at your church.
Three pretty basic, straightforward steps.
Hmmm, I didnâ€™t see, â€œrun and whine to others about itâ€ in there. Did you? And I didnâ€™t see, â€œsend out a letter to anyone and everyone but the person you were supposed to,â€ in there. Did you?
Or, post it online,
spread it on Facebook,
or add it in technicolor detail to your â€œMySpaceâ€ page. So why are all of those options preferred over what God tells us to do?
Think about it.
Now, if youâ€™re still tempted to bypass the entire Matthew 18 hassle, let me see if this motivates youâ€¦
The answer to the â€˜Disappearing without Dialogue dilemma (i.e. â€˜questionâ€™) isâ€¦
No, you do not have that option as a Christ follower. The Matthew 18 passage is not there as a mere suggested avenue among many for â€˜conflict resolution.â€™ Simply going AWOL on the friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor, or even mere acquaintance may seem like the easier road up front, but you have to disobey God to take it.
But hereâ€™s the real kicker. Whenever we â€˜Bail without Conversation,â€™ we might as well paint a sign on our forehead that says,
â€œI was wrong, but I just couldnâ€™t face up to it.â€
Aside from being a horrendous fashion statement, itâ€™s an awful lot to write in such a small space (unless you have a receding forehead).
No, when we bail without conversation, weâ€™re basically busted.
Wouldnâ€™t it be better to just do what God says? Then, worse case scenario is that you end up back at the silent treatment anyway, but the best case scenario is that you save a relationship from going south on you.
Just some thoughts.
And don’t forget that I will be speaking live over at Southbrook Monroe this coming weekend and would like to have a bunch of you join us there. You can find details at the end of yesterday’s post, or just click here.