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The Price of Relational Failure
October 1, 1992
Every day we confront the Lord in ways that we do not recognize Him. He comes to us through the lives of those who surround. Our responses and attitudes toward others become the testing points of our attitude toward Him. They become the rod and measuring stick of our relationship with the Lord.
The Lord comes to us silently. He does not announce His entrance. He does not flash a light and say, “I am now coming to you through this man (or sister or brother…)." He expects us to relate our responses and attitudes back to our awareness of Him. By maintaining this kind of government over our relationships, we can be assured that, no matter when and through whom He is appearing to us, we have responded rightly to Him through the relationship. We have passed the test.
As we respond wrongly to the Lord through others, we cut ourselves off from Him. We become consigned to a certain realm of ignorance of Him, a realm that cannot be broken through until we come to repentance over our attitude.
"The Lord does not get angry, He just gets even."
This paraphrase of a humanistic quote aptly describes what happens when we miss and reject the Lord when He comes to us through the unassuming form of prophetic relationships. There are no lights, flashes, or warnings that go off. Silently, we become dismissed from His Presence.
This dismissal becomes reflected in a new sense of distance that occurs between us and those through whom we have rejected Him. Unless recognition unto repentance and reconciliation on our part occurs, that dismissal remains permanent, and that distance grows.
The rejections of the Lord in us—for which we bear the brunt—work in us a greater glory—a greater closeness, intimacy, and understanding of Him. In fact, it is perhaps safe to say that we gain greater access to the Lord's heart by the same degree that those who have rejected us lose that access and are rendered dismissed from His heart (see Mt 25:28).
At the end, the sum of our closenesses gained and intimacies lost before the Lord in this life will appear when we stand before Him. Those who have rejected us will not be part of our immediate lot at that time. Likewise those in whom we have rejected the Lord will stand together in Him apart from us.
We will have joy over those with whom we will be together before the Lord. But we will have sorrow over those with whom we could have been but are not because of our rejection of them. We will sorrow over seeing them with the Lord, and ourselves shut out from that dimension of fellowship.
The Ongoing Sifting
This silent sifting is going on all the time. It is happening in the more visible rifts that result in church splits and outward departures. But it is also happening in the invisible rifts—those tensions and conflicts that don't result in the severing of a relationship, but nevertheless result in a distancing of fellowship because one has withstood or rejected the Lord in another by a careless attitude of self will. All the time, the lines are being drawn and redrawn which determine who will finally appear before the Lord, to what degree, and with whom.
This present world of relationships is not "real.” It is not real in the sense that all our spiritual relationships are conducted through the veil of our remaining cursed humanity. We don't see people for who they really are, nor do they see us. For us, true relationship functions by reflecting our encounters through these limited flawed veils back to our inward link in Christ, reaffirming our tie to Him. It is as we affirm our tie to Him that our true tie to others through the Spirit becomes more and more clear.
Those who come closer and closer to the Lord at the expense of their veils with their false soul ties grow closer and closer in the reality of Spirit to those who are doing likewise. For this cause, relationships in the church are ever changing, and must change. The approved become more manifest, as do the disapproved (I Cor 11:19).
It is these changes that necessarily eventuate in visible rifts and splits in church bodies, as well as the silent distances that are revealed in more subtle relational drift. In turn, new unions are formed and new unities become made manifest one generation to the next.
Relational Justice and Forgiveness
One of the keys to relational progression in Christ is the release of others from our perceptions of them. In times of relational distress due to negative perception, this release is called forgiveness.
Forgiveness is important. By forgiveness we are recognizing the limitations of our present standing, the remaining handicap of our own veil. We in turn become released from our limitedness that much more to reach for Christ and press on into our next relationships in Him.
This is why reconciliation is important—even in relationship where the new distance we experience is due to the other's failure to rightly respond to the Lord through us. Reconciliation cannot repair distance where failure to recognize the Lord through a prophetic relationship remains outstanding.
Where recognition unto repentance does not occur on the part of someone who has failed the test in violating prophetic relationship, relational justice must take its course to be manifest at the last day. (Some erroneously teach that forgiveness and reconciliation unconditionally mitigate the course of relational justice and accountability before the Lord for one's wrongful words and attitudes. This is not so.)
No. To make reconciliation where violation of prophetic relationship remains unrecognized and unconfessed does not obliterate relational justice. Neither is it to compromise one's prophetic stand. Rather, the importance of reconciliation is that it releases us who have responded rightly so that we may move beyond ourselves further into Christ.
By reconciling with others who remain ignorant of their violations of prophetic relationship with us, we release them from the limitations of our own judgment. In releasing others, we release ourselves from becoming stuck at our own point of "rightness" concerning the other's failure in the relationship. We refuse to own our rightness and so become undone by it.
Though we serve as vessels of judgment, we refuse to own that judgment as if we were the Judge (see the examples of Jn 12:47-49, Lk 23:34). To reconcile is to leave relational justice in the Lord's hands, freeing us to maintain an ever open heart to the possibility of fullness of grace through repentance later when violators of prophetic relationship may come to recognize their transgression against, not us, but the Lord. (Such recognition may not occur for years, if at all.)
For all these reasons, we must be quick to initiate reconciliation with those who reject the Lord in us, doing so at the earliest time possible that does not undercut the prophetic truth at stake over our separation.
No one ultimately gives account for anyone but himself and his own responses in relationship. All response reflects immediately back to the Lord. We do not change others directly nor are changed by them.
What unity we have with others of the Spirit is entirely dependent on our responses to Christ in spite of the human veil between us. If we unite or divide based on the veil of our limited perceptions with their false judgments, we fail the test put before us. All our development into true relationship is governed by this reality.
Condemned or Justified by the Law of Our Own Words (Mt 12:36-37)
This is why we must give account for every word, and why we stand justified or condemned before the Lord by our words at each level. It is not for our conscious motivation behind each utterance that we give account, but for the flow of spirit from which our words flow, consciously or unconsciously, from our ever present sense of our accountability to Him.
Our words are our law. If our words are converted to grace, they release grace toward us from the Throne. But if our words emanate from careless legal perception wherewith we judge others, we shall also stand under the Lord's judgment according to the standard of our own words (Lk 19:22).
Our words are the essence of our law, the sum expression of our legality of nature descended from the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, we are finally judged by how we stand in relationship to, not some external legal code, but our own words. It is whether or not our words have been converted to flow from the Father in the Tree of Life that determines the measure of grace we shall receive in appearing before Him. There is no fairer system of justice.
Still It Does Not Appear What We Shall Be (I Jn 3:2)
We need to remember this about the church. We are ever changing. Our word source is ever being converted to His source. We are ever seeking reconciliation with others over our faulty legality and so we are growing in grace.
We also are ever experiencing distances and making reconciliation with those who have failed to rightly respond to the Lord in us. Some of those distances are permanent. Others are not, but are healed by eventual recognition unto repentance, perhaps years later.
Because of these things, the church is ever emerging. We are all put to the test every moment that we entertain relationship. This testing produces perpetual transformation of the face of the church, week to week, generation to generation—until final glory is realized and the sum result of our testings is realized.
The price of relational failure is very high. But it is not a price we will fully appreciate until final glory. Nevertheless, that price will be revealed concerning all. None shall escape the judgment seat of Christ.
We see therefore why reconciliation is so important. The fear of the Lord issues forth in a constant quiet self-watching and guardianship over our words and attitudes toward others, taking none for granted. But those who do not fear the Lord speak with loose tongues and are not careful about the source of their words.
Such as these treat relationship lightly and are unconcerned for the ramifications of their words on others. They care little for the dependability of their words and so live according to the most basic form of lawlessness, that of the broken word. These are they who remain most ignorant of the Lord when He comes to test them through prophetic relationship, showing little care for their rejection of such.
If we yet have hearts to hear in the lateness of our generation, then let us hear afresh. For already the major lines have been drawn that silently segment the Lord's people in terms of readiness and qualifications to stand before Him at His return. All such has been based in—not what we have believed—but on how we have responded relationally.
It is not the knowledgeable who are ready for transport, but the relationally faithful. With what little opportunity remains to us, therefore, let us respond to make all necessary relational amends from the past and walk in what remains to us to exercise relational faithfulness and care.
written from Merrimack, New Hampshire
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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