I never expected him to hang up

Google+

I never expected him to hang up on me. When it happened I just sat there for a minute, stunned. A pastor, with decades of experience in the ministry who I respected and considered a friend, had effectively severed our relationship. It was done, and I couldn’t believe it.

Our relationship had just flatlined. All I heard was silence. Spiritually I didn’t hear much else for another week or two. I was dull.

Then the Spirit spoke. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 

That’s the way that Paul said it to the Romans. If it be possible…

But when it’s not, what are you going to do?

The plan is to live at peace with everybody. Israel and Hamas. Alabama and Auburn. Tom and Jerry. Everybody.

That’s the way that it’s supposed to be. As humans we have an ingrained desire to be liked. We want to make friends. Be social. We yearn for the fellowship of others. Sometimes though, no matter what we do, people just don’t like us, and they never will.

I hate it when we fight. Jonathan just turns away and pretends I don't exist.

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon via Compfight cc

It hurts, but it happens. That’s why Paul said, “If it be possible…” It doesn’t take long for the possible to become the impossible. Like when someone let’s you know it’s impossible by hanging up you. That guy—I don’t imagine he’ll ever talk to me again. At least not on this side of eternity. The title of an article that I wrote many months ago offended him. He never called me. He never wrote me about it. I had no idea how upset he was until I was half-way through my apology. In all sincerity, but with that dead feeling in the pit of my stomach, I stammered that I prayed that the Lord would bless him and his church. I meant it then, and I still mean it today.

He sniped, “Thank you for calling.” Click.

I want to live in peace with him. I really do. There’s just one thing—right now it’s not possible. Some people choose divorce. Others bitterness. Others get jealous. That’s why Paul said, “If it be possible…” There’s nothing I can do to make that pastor like me. He made up his mind, and he made it up good.

As much as lies in me, I wish that I could go back and “unoffend” him. I can’t. It’s done, and he’s not in the forgiving mood.

So what do you do? What am I supposed to do when someone decides to break fellowship with me? What do you do when they hang up, and you know that they’re never calling back? Honestly, I’m not sure. My answer may not work every time. For you, it might not work at all, but for me…

First, I’m going to keep sacrificing myself on the altar of God’s will. It’s not easy, it’s not always pleasant, but it’s biblical. As much as you want to, don’t let that sound of an angry dial-tone keep you from ministering to others. Don’t let one person’s response take you out of the game. I was sick for three days after my brother in Christ fell out with me. I couldn’t stay that way forever though. We’ve got to keep putting ourselves back out there. Rather than being conformed, we need to be continually transformed. In order to live peaceably with all men, you’ve got to live. We as disciples of Christ have to present our body, ourselves as living sacrifices. There’s no such thing as a Christian hermit. A living sacrifice is two-fold. First, we’ve got to live. Then, we’ve got to be sacrificed. The first part involves some level of social interaction. The second part involves pain. It’s inevitable and unavoidable. Just because we may not be able to live peaceably with some men, doesn’t mean that we give up living peaceably with others. It’s God’s will, not ours. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Then, I’m going to try to stay humble. Or get that way. Paul warned the Romans not to think of themselves more highly than they should. If you plan on living peaceably with all men, you’re going to have to see your own faults and failures. You’re also going to have to see and recognize the strengths of others. I’ve discovered that I’m most critical of others when I’m thinking most highly of myself. So quit thinking that you’re brilliant and everyone else is a steaming pile of idiocy. Paul saw himself as the worst of all sinners and the least of all saints. He also recognized that he had been given grace, something that he neither worked for nor deserved, and from that viewpoint—from that grace-driven perspective—he counseled his readers to stay humble. Pride can very easily become a source of contention. It can very easily cause us to alter our opinion—either exalting ourselves or demeaning even those closest to us. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” (Romans 12:3-5)

Finally, I’m going to love purely. Don’t live like you’re afraid to get hurt again. Don’t live like you like you’re afraid to live. It’s not fair to everyone else, nor is it fair to yourself. The beauty of the gospel is that Christ died for us when we were at enmity with Him. He gave His life for His enemies and all throughout the gospels, over and over again, he commanded us to love one another. We’re commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. We’re even commanded to love those that hate us. We’re supposed to bless them that curse us. That’s pure love—blessing someone that curses you. So fight against that bitterness that wants to creep in. Don’t let apprehension call the shots or your find yourself alone talking about not having any real friends. A wise king once said that if you’re going to have friends, you better start being friendly.  “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly…” (Proverbs 18:24)  In the same vein, Paul said, “Let love be without dissimulation.” (Romans 12:9) Don’t fake it. Love purely. It’s much easier to heal after you’ve been hurt.

About the Author

Michael Andrzejewski

Michael Andrzejewski is a missionary in western Europe who loves to share his stories. An introvert by nature, he swims upstream while struggling to pastor cross-culturally. Passionate about both the Gospel and football, he constantly searches for really good sushi.

  • Dennis Kirk

    Very good and very helpful. I especially liked the comment, “Don’t live like your afraid to live.”

    • Praise the Lord, bro. We miss you guys. Living like I’m afraid to live is something that I deal with more often than I care to admit.

  • Mom

    Son, when we shine the truth of God’s word we face resistance. Thankfully, most of the time it is from unbelievers. It is indeed more painful when it is a brother or sister in Christ. As you have so well stated, we are responsible to stay at peace toward God and forgiveness toward others.

  • ruthann

    My suggestions are these – first, forgive him for his reaction, which was not loving or detached; and then go easier on yourself, because what you wrote must have come from good intention. Then – and this is key, I think – keep in mind that you are on your journey, and everyone else, this man included, is on his/her own journey. Peoples’ paths cross for a period of time, and there is always a lesson to be learned. Take the lesson and grow from it.

    • Ruthann, oh he’s been forgiven. My heart simply hurt when it happened. I hold no ill-will towards him at all. You’re right that people’s paths cross for a time, I just wish that the time could have been longer. 😉 Thanks for the comment and positive encouragement.