WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?

A handful of times each week, my daughter will cry during naptime or at night.  She cries for several different reasons.  Sometimes she cries because she's overtired and is frustrated that she can't fall asleep.  Other times she cries because something has scared her.  Yet other times she cries out of defiance to let me know she has no intention of going to sleep unless I force the issue.

There are also a handful of times each week when my daughter won't come to me when I call her.  Now sometimes she's just being disobedient.  But other times she thinks we're still playing a game, so she runs away not out of disobedience, but confusion as to what I really wanted.  Other times she just plain didn't hear me!

Now imagine if I responded to her cries or her not coming to me the exact same way, regardless of why she was crying or not coming? Worse yet, what if I always assumed the worst possible motivation -- that every time she cried or didn't come she was clearly and intentionally disobeying me? Don't you think that would lead to a confused and strained relationship between the two of us?

When I think about most of the church "drama" I've encountered in the various congregations I've attended, I think most of it boils down to people not stopping to ask the simple question, "Where did that come from?"  Either people react to the words and actions of others without thinking about what's behind them, or more often, they assume the very worst possible motivation.  They assume they know exactly why that person hasn't returned a phone call, walked out of the service, didn't smile back in the hallway, phrased that particular prayer request that way, reacted that way during a business meeting, said that ambiguous comment, etc.

And so the drama begins.  Relationships develop tension -- especially when one person is reacting against what they perceived were another person's true motivations, and the other person is totally clueless there's even a problem! People get hurt and grow bitter as actions and reactions start building on each other, even while no one knows what truly happened to start it all!

Communication doesn't get much treatment in talks about Christian living, spiritual disciplines, etc., but I think it belongs at the forefront of these conversations.  Miscommunication and misunderstanding are two of Satan's favorite ways to spread strife and disunity in churches.  I can't tell you how many people I have seen leave churches (or stay and make others miserable) because of actions or words they took the wrong way.

Part of loving each other as one body in Christ is to be gracious towards one another in this area.  Don't assume a wrong motivation; if you're not sure, ask! Don't assume sin or evil in the words and actions of others, but rather be gentle, humble, and merciful when confused by the deeds of another.  Sometimes people are indeed hurtful, and sometimes their words and actions do not have the best of intentions, but rather than assuming that from the beginning, stop and ask a simple question: "Where did that come from?"