Fellowship is Freshly-Baked Cookies

(and) Grumbling is Sewage

The ECS grapevine is small and thriving. I hear things that “people” say, whether I want to or not. Likewise, other people hear reports of stuff that I’ve said. Some of it is even stuff I actually have said. Ha. And I hear that not everyone is happy about everything that’s happening at the school. Shocker, I know.

That they would be displeased with some things is unsurprising. So am I! That they would find a degree of enjoyment or catharsis in commiserating with others who cannot be a part of the solution is variously sad and frustrating and also unsurprising.

On one hand the abuse of grace presupposes its existence! Like all people, Christians who become accustomed to a gracious culture tend to take it for granted. They forget that the blessings surrounding them are gifts. This forgetting is very easy to do, and it usually gives way to some sort of grumbling.

Grumbling is immature. It comes from a disregard for what we deserve. It not only presumes that we deserve good things, but it also presumes that we should get to decide what those good things are. We think we should get to determine how others are going to bless us. This is a wrongheaded, and not a characteristic of a mature person.

Grumbling is also unproductive. When a discontented John Doe tells me that “lots of people agree with me” or “I’m not the only one who feels this way,” my options are limited. The other people typically remain nameless, so I can’t follow up with them…if they actually exist. I can choose to listen to Mr. Doe, and A) I’ve rewarded him, and B) I may have rewarded only him. Alternatively, I could do nothing, and further alienate Mr. Doe, giving fuel to the rumor that I don’t listen to people. That leaves me with a third option that I’d prefer every time: Listen to the feedback, and move forward on principle whether John Doe likes it or not. (And I really hope he likes it!)

Grumbling is also toxic. Toxic things are poisonous, and they infect organisms from the inside or the outside. They spread and they do their nasty business with inexorable effect unless they’re arrested. In the Christian life, confession and repentance are the antidote to the toxicity of grumbling. Reaching that point on your own is a lot more fun than being escorted there by someone else. But as we’ve seen, grumblers are immature, and they often need that escort.

We all have responsibility in this. In your travels, if you hear grumbling on the part of administrators, teachers, students, parents, one another, or out of your own mouth, your marching orders are clear: in Christian love, kill it! Ha ha ha!

We needn’t pretend that we have everything sorted out. Quite the contrary! But for sake of the collective joy and blessing of our community, as well as for any real hope of actually getting better, be a drama stopper. And there’s no quicker way to kill drama than to adhere to Matthew 18 in conflict resolution while encouraging others to do the same.

We learn rather quickly how rare a “big deal” is when we are faced with the hard work of loving confrontation. It’s easier to grumble than it is to go to your brother when he has sinned against you. But don’t grumble. If you can, let love cover the sin. If you can’t, have the conversation with the offending party. Don’t let yourself give way (or audience!) to toxic grumbling.

We want for Matthew 18 to be a warm blanket smothering the flames of discontent and warming chilled relationships.

We want for Matthew 18 to be our ninja skill when it comes to maintaining fellowship. After all, fellowship is what we are made for.

In fact, when it comes to spiritual aromas, fellowship is like freshly-baked cookies and grumbling is like sewage. What sort of fragrant gravity could a community of Matthew 18 practitioners produce? Let’s find out!

Risus est bellum.
Jonathan