Rebuking a brother or sister in Christ can seem like a punch in the face. It is one of the hardest parts of Christian fellowship to implement, and particulaly to implement well. We shy away from rebuke for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest is out of fear of causing hurt, or damaging our relationship with that person. We convince ourselves is actually unkind, we’ll do more harm than good, that someone else is probably closer to them and should bring it up, or maybe that the Holy Spirit will reveal the sin to them in his time, so it’s not up to us to breach the discussion.
Over the past couple of weeks, my heart has been breaking. I have seen a stream of posts and comments throughout my social media feed discussing our nation’s upcoming vote regarding the re-definition of marriage. But if I am to be honest, calling it a ‘discussion’ seems generous.
No one really enjoys sharing their weaknesses, let alone their sins. Even if we understand the great benefit that can come through sharing and confession to others (for both ourselves, our fellowship, and even for others learning from our mistakes), it can feel humiliating. We are often ashamed of our sin, discouraged by our failings, and now more than ever through social media, we can really portray ourselves how we want to be seen, having it all together in a ‘perfect’ life – so why would we want to tarnish that by sharing how short of the mark we fall?
As I explored a bit in my first reflective post Reflecting on Reflecting, I think that vulnerability and, alongside it, openness and authenticity is a vital part of Christian growth and community, so I want to share with you one (or some!) of my recent failings and what I have been reflecting on it.
In my very first year of med school, one of our first assignments was to write an academic essay on reflective essays. I don’t know who first thought this was a good idea, but I recall it as a pretty awful time. However, since then, I have become aware of the importance of reflection as a discipline of spiritual growth, or any sort of growth, and ironically it has caused me to reflect a fair bit on reflection itself. In a recent post in the series on being in a ‘reading rut’, I wrote a post focussed on meditating, which is the active reflection on God’s Word. In this post, I am looking at reflection in a broader sense; reflecting on situations, relationships, ideas and concepts; the process of thinking deeply and mentally working things out, contemplating things of importance. In this sense, reflection is not something that comes particularly naturally to me; my brain doesn’t float to thinking through important and meaningful topics, unless they seem to be having a prominent emotional impact on me and I can’t help but dwell on them. My train of thought seems to have many stations it stops at, and changes route frequently. And in addition, I am often unaware of the reflective process that has taken place when I reach conclusions about things.