Someone who discharges a firearm is responsible for the bullet from the moment it is fired until it ceases forward motion. The path of the bullet carries legal, civil, and moral consequences. So do our words.
One of the sad things in war is death by friendly fire. Friendly fire happens when troops in the same army kill each other with errant rounds fired in the heat of battle. It is called friendly fire because it comes from people on your side, not from the enemy.
In the current tension-filled season, I am beginning to see what I would call unfriendly fire taking place within the Church. These are potshots taken at fellow believers. These discharged rounds of displeasure get fired with no regard to their current and future path.
Jesus spoke to His disciples in John 15 and said, “I no longer call you slaves. Now you are my friends.” He defined the relationship He wanted with His disciples, not viewing them as religious slaves but as His friends. He made that comment to a group of disciples who had various opinions on a wide range of topics, just like us. He redefined His relationship with the disciples so they would know how He wanted to relate to them and how He wanted them to relate to each other. These are the same disciples who thought each of them in their unique way deserved a special place in His life. Again, they are like us, thinking we are somehow the one who is special, right, and deserving of special honor in the Lord’s presence. God has no favorites. He only has friends and He treats them with the same love no matter how dysfunctional they might appear individually or as a group.
When this crazy season is finally over, what will remain of our relationships, especially those within the Church? Will those relationships have been so shot full of confrontation and correction that we are left alone with a pile of corpses lying at our feet of people who used to be our friends who are now the victims of our random and uncontrolled unfriendly fire?
I have had my finger on the trigger of my opinion so many times of late that it has only been by the grace of God that I didn’t pull the trigger and say something in an unguarded moment. In those instances, I had something I disagreed with in line with my self-righteous sights. In my anger and disgust, I was blinded to the presence of a person who stood behind the target of my displeasure. I don’t want to be found guilty of shooting a friend of God.