"We need to talk."
Usually these words preceed a conversation neither party is looking forward to having.According to my husband, it usally means that the bed of roses we were walking on is about to turn to a crown of thorns.
I recently came across a scripture in the bible that had a providencial "We need to talk" stamped all over it. I found it a couple of weeks ago and tried to forget it ever since. But it wouldn't be ignored. So what's the scripture that had me running like Jonah to Ninevah?
1 Corinthians 6:7. The context for chapter 6 verses 1-8 is Paul is writing to the church in Corinth. They have been having a hard time settling disputes amongst themselves. So they started taking each other to court.
Vs. 1 When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers. (NLT)
Paul's reasoning for why this is a bad idea is found in verse 4.
Vs. 4 If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church?
He is saying that the church of believers, which wasn't recognized or respected by the governing authorities at the time, should not go to those who don't share their beliefs to settle matters. Instead, he urged the believers to take their matters before wise men of the church to settle a dispute.
Here is the verse that I have been struggling with:
vs. 7 Even to have such law suits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? (NLT)
Ummmm excuse me?!
Why not just accept the injustice and let myself be cheated?!??!?!?!
Well Paul, author of 13 of the 27 books in the new testatment, here is my answer....
"Because it is not FAIR!" If we are all believers, then someone else should show a little wisdom or humility and not cheat me or do injustice against me in the first place, right?
If it isn't apparent, the reason I ran away from this scripture was because it touched a sore spot in my heart. It reminded me of the hurts that my fellow Christians bestowed on me. I remember thinking, "if they loved God so much, they should see why they are wrong and I am right."
Like Jonah, I ran away from this scripture because I heard God saying "We need to talk" but I, dreading what that conversation would entail, decided it would be safer to run away for a while instead of listening.
And just like with Jonah, God has a way of getting your attention. So was I swallowed by a ginormous fish?
No! I heard a sermon by Karen Vaughn. I had never heard of Karen and Linus Vaughn before, but I went to a church this past weekend to support a friend, God showed up again saying "we need to talk".
The reason I didn't want to have "a little talk with Jesus" about this verse was I didn't want to be told my hurt was not valid or that it was immature.
We fear the "we need to talk" conversations because we assume the ending from the beginning. But we forget that at the end of the "we need to talk" conversations comes restoration and deeper connection.
Karen gave a transparent testimony about her middle son's struggle with grand mal seizures. For 25 years, she and her husband, who are pastors, prayed, fasted, and believed God for their son's complete and total healing. Twenty-five years! During which time they continued to pray for the sick and see other people healed. Then in a bold act of honesty, Karen admitted to being angry! She loved God. She was still saved. Still going to heaven AND God had ticked her off. She didn't rebel or turn away from her faith. She actually got closer to God with her honesty.
My heart was arrested as she spoke so truthfully because basically what she was saying was "GOD, this isn't FAIR."
One of my biggest fears is being taken advantage of. Why? Because I HAVE been taken advantage of by fellow believers and it HURT! I have felt liked God didn't vindicate me when I wanted Him too. He didn't stand up for me when I was being attacked. It seemed like He left me alone when I stepped out in faithful action to do something He told me to do.
1 Cor 6:7 eats at the very flesh of my disappointment. I don't like these scriptures that say turn the other cheek and if a man asks for your coat, give him your shirt too! No, I want to keep my cheeks, my shirt, and my coat safe from harm.
I don't want to put myself out there for someone to take advantage.
Once you see the homeless guy to whom you gave money go into the liquor store, you think twice about giving money to any panhandler. Once you share the gospel with someone only to have them literally laugh in your face and call you naive or weak for needing the crutch of religion, you think twice about sharing the gospel again. Once you watch a loved one die after you believe you heard God specifically say they will live, you think twice about making a public declaration. Once you have been sexually abused as a child and cried out to God to make it stop, only to have it continue, you think twice about whether God actually cares.
We don't want to put ourselves out there AGAIN only to meet disappointment. So we protect ourselves from everyone, including God, who has hurt us. What do you do when God disappoints? To whom do you run?
Some of us run into full rebellion. Rejecting God and professing to have no need, use, or want of anything related to Him. Some, like me, don't rebel full out. We internally simmer and allow the EXPERIENCES to shape our future dealings with God. Though we love and adore him, we keep certain areas of our hearts and certain topics of conversation buried, covered, and hidden. We still love God but we don't trust him with "that" because of our experiences
That is where I was that fateful Sunday when Karen spoke. Stuck in full bondage to the past experiences unable to move forward. She ripped the band-aid off the wound that I had hidden under many layers and many masks. God revealed to her in the midst of her son's journey a truth so profound it flung me heart wide open:
My people have limited me to the realm of their experience instead of releasing me to the fullness of my Word.
I had a choice to make. If God never heals anyone ever again, will I act like I believe He is a healer? If He never answers my "why me", will I still believe He is omniscient? If nothing ever works in my favor, will I still believe that all things work for my good? If God disappoints me again, will I still trust Him?
Have you ever read any of my posts on trusting God? I write about it here and here and here because it is a struggle for me largely because of my experiences. I ran from that scripture and any idea of living with injustice or being wrongly treated by my fellow Christians because I had been there and done that.
Maybe you are at that place. Feeling like God isn't there for you because the cirsumstances don't favor you. Let me encourage you. God and I did have that conversation. And He is saying to you that same thing He said to me.
My Word is true and I love you! I am here for you. I am in this with you.
In 1 Corinthians 6:7 when Paul asks "why not accept the injustice?", He already knew what I just learned. He knew that seeking to preserve your life or to save face seperates us from God. It seperates us from His provision and protection.
He didn't punish me, chastise me or even bring up my mistakes. He focused on the truths in His Word. Either His word is true or it is not.
He wanted to talk to me so He could get me unstuck. Instead of running from the "we need to talk" conversations, run to them with God. I promise there is restoration and healing in those conversations.