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Summary: It’s only through the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ. Only through Him can we be forgiven and at peace with God. Only through him can we find peace with one another.

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Rebuilding Broken Relationships

Part 3 of a 4 Part Series

Jim Pritchett

Swift Creek Community Church

INTRODUCTION - You're Only as Strong as Your Roots

This is a majestic oak tree. How tall do you guess it is? How old do you think it is? I wonder how much it weighs. Oak is some of the best hardwood. It makes great floors, cabinets, and furniture. It’s also a top choice for firewood.

These are tough trees. They are resistant to disease and insects. Their bark makes them able to withstand a forest fire, if it’s not too intense.

Just a few feet away is another oak tree of similar size. It went down in a wind storm, while the other tree survived. Fierce winds are perhaps the tree's greatest hazard. That's because, even for trees towering over 100 feet, the roots only grow a few feet deep. Erosion or wet soil can weaken the roots to the point where a giant oak can be brought crashing down by high winds. For an oak tree, a strong root system supplies nourishment to the tree, and anchors it to the earth.

Character serves the same function for people. The strength of a person's character below the surface sustains his or her success in life. Strong, good character gives you a base of support from which to withstand the tough times. As you go through life, you see people just like these two trees. Some are well-anchored, and able to withstand the storms of life. Others have a weak root system, and they go down when things get tough. Q: Which tree do you want to be like?

Today, we are talking about “Rebuilding Broken Relationships.” I can’t think of anything that will develop and test and prove your character more than working through relationships. These skills are in short supply in our society. You see way too many people who “cut out and run” when things get tough, instead of doing the hard work to iron things out. And then we wonder why things are such a mess.

This is one area where the church definitely needs to take the lead. We don’t need to go to Oprah, or Dr. Phil, or Jerry Springer for our help on how to resolve conflicts. Jesus Christ gave clear instructions. If we follow His teaching, and have the difficult conversations, and pray through things together, bathed in a spirit of love, God will get the victory, and you will get the blessing.

Just last week, I saw on old high school & college friend, and we had a great time together. Lots of great memories. He’s doing very well in life, with a good career and a great family. But then there’s his church. His church is deeply conflicted, and he is really grieved over it. It’s heartbreaking to hear him tell about it. Unfortunately, this story is repeated over and over, all over the country. Tons of people are conflicted, and many people carry that over into their church, and create more conflict there. And we all know, deep down, this isn’t right. It’s not what God would want, and it’s not what we want. So, here’s what Jesus said to do.

Matthew 18:15-17 (NLT)

"If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If that person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. If the church decides you are right, but the other person won't accept it, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.

Let’s unpack and apply this teaching of Jesus. First, understand –

• We are human beings. There will be conflict.

No matter what “the experts” may say, a basic fact is – we all have a dark side, what theologians call a “sin nature.” Yes, there is a great deal of good in each person, but we also have the ability to do really bad things, too. And because of the bad choices and behaviors we make, we develop conflicts with other people. You just can’t avoid it. It’s going to happen. Some of you will probably get upset before the day is through.

Sometimes new Christians think that things in the church will be different. They should be. But the reality is, even Christians have their disagreements and fights! I knew a guy in seminary that had been raised what we call a “battling Baptist” in East Tennessee. The stories he could tell of church fights! I think he actually enjoyed a lot of it. Kind of like WWF of church! Let’s slug it out! Who’s gonna come out on top?

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