BY: JONATHAN CHEN
Last semester, when my freshmen year was coming to an end, a lot of upperclassmen told me to make the most out of the few weeks that was left – because sophomore year was going to suck. Their number one reason was usually something along the lines of the difficulties of dealing with apartment mates.
Now that I, too, am living in an apartment, I’m starting to see just what they meant.
Not too long ago, my friend told me that his apartment flooded a second time. Usually, this situation by itself is pretty bad, but what bothered him more was that one of his roommates not only managed to pretend not to notice the hardwood floor was covered with water, but also proceeded to go back to his room and watch comedy videos; he even called other people over just to see how funny they were.
“I want to bring up his lack of ownership and responsibility to him,” my friend concluded, “but I don’t know how to confront him without seeming harsh or judgmental.”
My friend’s dilemma is not unique: indeed, many of us have a hard time confronting those close to us because it’s a painful and vulnerable experience. We prefer to passively deal with these situations – appearing sufficiently content while shelving away our true thoughts and emotions. However, if we just bottle up our feelings of frustration and fail to address these issues in an effective and timely manner, unresolved indignation can quickly turn into tension, bitterness, and resentment.
But how? It seems intolerant and perhaps even unbiblical for us to openly criticize and be angry at our friends, even if what they do is clearly inconsiderate. Isn’t Christianity all about loving and being kind to one another?
When Jesus entered the temple and saw the house of the Lord cluttered with merchants and money-changers (John 2:13-17), he didn’t resolve the issue by trying to make small talk with them and then politely bringing up, as an aside, “Oh, uh, by the way, I don’t think you should be selling animals here.” No! The Bible makes it very clear that when Jesus saw a holy place of worship being disrupted by these men, he busted out a whip, drove the merchants out, poured out all their money, and started flipping tables. On the surface, what Jesus did appears destructive, confrontational, and even wrong.
Yet, what was at stake? At stake was the purity of the Lord’s temple. His anger stemmed from a heart focused on God; Jesus was filled with zeal for the protection and sanctity of God’s house and filled with frustration at God’s holiness being disrupted by these peddlers. His observations accompanied his timely and much-needed wrath that was tempered by proper control and focus. And as a result of his decisive action, Jesus accomplished what was in accordance with God’s will and restored the holiness of the temple.
Likewise, if we too, witness our brothers and sisters being complacent, or selfish, or acting against the will of God, and if our heart is burdened with grief, burdened with the desire to see them grow closer to Christ and grow closer to one another, then we must prayerfully take bold and deliberate action to challenge them. These kinds of confrontations might seem like unwanted conflict and pain, but they will allow us to become vulnerable with ourselves and open about the truths of the darkness of our hearts. In the end, the more we experience this, the more we will be convicted of both the depth of our broken and sinful nature and the depth of God’s love and mercy for us, despite all that we are.