“Keep a close watch on your life…”—I Timothy 4:16
I began listening to the band U2 in high school after the release of their moderately successful album, Pop. On the recommendation of a friend, I gave it a listen, but I was not nearly impressed as everyone around me seemed to be. Thankfully, that same friend directed me to the band’s earlier albums, which captured the band’s wide variety of musical expression and introduced me to the storied development that lay at the bottom of their more recent experimental work. I’m happy to say that as I explored their music further, I was quickly taken by previous iterations of the band’s sound, especially the Joshua Tree and War albums.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the band’s story, of course, is the lead singer, Bono. I’ve always been struck by Bono’s faith and his public identification with Christianity.
A few years back Bono was reflecting on the bumpy relationships within the band, and he said something that stuck with me, “The hardest thing to do is stick together. Mates, family, marriage, business, bands…It’s like resisting gravity. The alternative is too predictable. You rid the room of argument. You empty your life of the people you need the most.”
Challenging words from Bono. Are we not all tempted to surround ourselves with people who agree with us? Of course we are. But if we take that course, do we not remove ourselves from the very people we need most in our lives—the people who will push back for the right reasons and hold us accountable in love? We absolutely do.
Our passage from Luke 6 this past Sunday called us to a life of spiritual care for one another, which means (among other things) that we’re called to be lovingly honest with one another, exercising patience and extending grace as we pursue Christ likeness together.
Walking this way is difficult because (1) it’s uncomfortable, and (2) you always risk offending someone and losing a relationship. In my experience, however, the greatest difficulty (3) may be the spiritual vigilance required to address sin in my own life first. To address another’s sin, you must watch your life like a hawk to make sure you do not have a plank sticking out of your eye, as you reach to pluck the sawdust out of someone else’s eye (Luke 6:39-42).
In Timothy Lane’s pamphlet entitled, Conflict, he describes conflict as an “opportunity to grow.” Though counterintuitive, Lane says that without conflict, “…we will remain immature, incomplete, and lacking many godly character qualities.” Could it be the reason your spiritual life is on life support is that there’s no one close enough to you to address your sin honestly in love? In concert with James 4, Lane calls us to a life of self-examination, repentance, and faith in community. These qualities and practices must be present if we ever hope to have a community that’s serious about assisting one another in Christ likeness.
Next week we’ll continue this discussion by turning our attention to the pattern of peacemaking that is set forth in the Scripture.