By Henry Vandermeer, District Representative, Western Canada
Have you ever wondered what the greatest challenge of being a District Representative with Village Missions might be? Could it be the travel? Might it be sleeping in a different bed 200 days of the year? Possibly, could it be, too much of the great food that is prepared by caring missionaries and their wives? What about deep theological differences? Could it be…?
From my experience the greatest challenge we face as District Representatives is the stubbornness, pride, and basic lack of love of individuals who profess to be Christians but do not live out that conviction. When I started this responsibility six years ago I wondered what deep theological land mines I might become involved in. What has come to the forefront is the reality that when Christians give up on the basic principles of how to deal with each other–problems arise. Especially in rural situations when people do not start with the concept of humbleness, care and love for each other disaster often follows.
James 4 has some words of advice for us–words of self reflection. May they cause us to look at our own situations and see if we are truly seeking to be God’s servants in real and powerful ways.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3
As I look back on my own life I see much of the above in the serious conflicts I have been part of. Sometimes, I am the one who coveted, who had the wrong motives, who “killed” relationships and asked God with wrong motives. I have had to repent, seek forgiveness, realize the depth of my pride, and eat humble pie. I grieve over pain that I have caused.
James 4 also has some words of advice for us about the answer to the challenge presented. Here are some of the thoughts:
“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you… Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
As you go into your next conflict, challenge, may you reflect on the truth of James 4. If one is going to err on the side of judgement or grace, always start with grace and with a truly humble spirit!