C.F.W. Walther was, effectively, the first president of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. From pretty much the beginning of when the church arrived from Germany they faced “discord”. Sometimes people are all about what they want and think, no matter how ill-advised or just not knowing what they’re doing. To a current pastor it’s assuring to know it’s not just me but goes back to those who were the leaders and movers.
I do have one quick observation. Quite often you have people who chose to cause this discord. They have no idea of what they’re doing or talking about. They’ve never discussed any concerns with anyone, they simply shoot from the lip about their opinion, then let the debris fall where it may. Generally it’s people who really have no experience working in an organization or a team environment. They’ve always been about themselves and feel no need to change. I will say this much, I really wonder what they think they are accomplishing. Further I have to fear for them when they are standing in the judgment, how is Jesus going to see their attempt at trying to undermine His church or one of His ministers. I’m certainly not saying ministers are infallible. However, you better know what you’re talking about, and be prepared for genuine work in terms of bringing about and implementing change. Creating discord and trying to undermine a ministry is not going to be well received when you are in the presence of the Lord for judgment.
I’ve posted another blog where the author is describing the Scriptural discussion on causing discord and trying to undermine a ministry.
Walther offers his observations on his experience with those who are just about creating discord:
“Unfortunately, there are far too many people who think that if they did not instigate discord and especially if the offender does not take the first step toward reconciliation, then it is not their fault if they cannot live in peace with the offender. If they are obvious non-Christians, they rejoice when it does not go well for their offender. They watch for a suitable opportunity when they can repay him the injustice he did them. If they are not Christians who carefully guard themselves, they often allow a bitter root to grow up in their heart against their offender, from which bitter fruits are produced. This is especially true if they have been insulted by a Christian. It is usually the case that careless Christians can no longer, from their hearts, pray for their offender all his temporal and spiritual needs. They are no longer able to rejoice with him, to speak to him in a friendly manner, and to do good to him. Such Christians are of the opinion that only their offender bears responsibility for the discord.
But what does Saint Paul say in today’s reading? [Romans 12: 16-21]’Live in harmony with one another.’ “Therefore,’ repay no one evil for evil.” We see fro this that even is a person has not provided the first occasion for discord, if he lets the offense that he has suffered at the hands of his neighbor serve as an excuse for not loving him as before and for not being friendly to him in deeds and words, that person has not done “so far as it depends on you” to live in peace with all men.
In the concluding words of our text, the apostle makes two points. First, he says, ‘Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” If the Christian wants to be peace-loving in God’s eyes, he dare not repay his offender with the least evil, even if the offense was ever so great and grievous. Either the offense is not worth the strife, or else it earns God’s wrath and punishment. In the event that the offense deserves the latter, the Christian must give way to God’s wrath. He must not take the least bit of revenge himself, seizing God’s office and thus hindering Him by taking vengeance on the evil by himself. A Christian must value peace and harmony so highly that he will suffer considerable harm if he thereby purchase peace and harmony.
Yet even this is not enough. Saint Paul demands still more. He says: ‘To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” If a Christian wants to be peace-loving in God’s eyes, he must repay evil with good. The darker and more sullen the offender is against him, the more friendly the Christian must show himself toward his offender. He must not become tired of heaping coals of fire on his antagonist’s head, overwhelming him with love and benefits to the extent that he is finally conquered by that love, moved to give up his wrath and prompted to love the person he offended.
Oh, if only all Christians would do all they can to live in peace with their neighbors, then peace would bloom in all hearts, in homes and in families, in cities and in congregations, throughout the world.”
I have to admit, I did kind of smirk at Walther’s comment that one shouldn’t tire of heaping coals on his antagonist’s head. I know, I’m bad. If I was one of those people who always seems to have a problem, always seems to be trying to undermine, they better check on how they are being the problem and how Jesus is going to judge that. Do you really want to say, “well Jesus I undermined that ministry because I didn’t like the pastor”. Do you really want to imagine how that’s going to be received?