Rich began riding bikes a few years before me, on a Honda 350. I soon bought a similar one, then Rich moved up to a larger ride, the Harley Super Glide. Yeah, a few decades back. We’d rag on each other’s bikes—Rich defending Harleys, me defending Hondas. OK, once his wife thought we were ready to break out the fists, but it was a friendly rivalry. Let’s just call it spirited, OK? Much like the comparison in the pic above of a Harley and a Honda by Kevin Wing.
So when he T-boned me in Blythe, CA, it was accidental, right? We’d left Prescott Arizona earlier and the heat hit 113, so we decided to stop at the first café for cold drinks. In the lead at the right side of the lane, I saw a prospect, signaled and slowed and began to turn left. Rich, behind me in the left side of the lane, missed all of that.
Partway into the turn my bike suddenly crow hopped several feet. In the air. His Harley had slammed into my Honda and I bounced. An angel must have held the bike up—we never went down, but my crash bar bent at 45 degrees. Yes, it WAS an accident, but it provided some evidence for Honda superiority for years: takes a mauling but keeps on hauling.
Nice metaphor for church, isn’t it? But some accidents with fellow followers of Jesus don’t meet the description of accidental. We get wounded, just about all of us. Confidences get betrayed. Lies get told. Power struggles fracture friendships. The list could go on. And often, we withdraw from a partner in Christ, sometimes from the church itself.
In following Jesus, how can we best respond? Let me suggest a few principles, OK? Jesus’ last prayer was that we would develop the same unity he and the Father had (John 17:20-21). Paul told us to “live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16). Put these together, and we have a high bar to reach.
Realize it’s real. Don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Pretending leads to more deception.
Realize some wounds can be ignored, as momentary exceptions to an otherwise good relationship. Being imperfect, we’ll all wound one another. Let mercy triumph over judgment, and let it slide.
Realize some wounds cannot be ignored without allowing damage to grow. Here, speak the truth in love, offer forgiveness, work toward reconciliation. Now, how can you tell the difference between this and the last? A lot of prayer and a lot of experience. Err on the side of openness and healing.
Realize not all fractures can be healed. Sometimes we must let go. Paul graces us here with the truth “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone: (Romans 12:18). We can’t live at peace with all, but we can give it our best shot. Only then we can let it go.
Granted, these principles are brief, and much easier to read than to practice. But we can’t form a solid connection with God without solid connections with others, according to John, “For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). That scares me, deeply, so let’s work on loving when it’s difficult, OK?
Kick Starting the Application
Think on a few occasions when you’ve been wounded by friendly fire. What prompted it? How did it effect you? How did it change the relationship? What most keeps you from reconciling with those who have wronged you?
Take some time to ponder and pray about a relationship that is now less than optimal because you caught some friendly fire. Can you take some steps to attempt to bring healing? What are they? Does anything keep you from working on it?