This week I struggled with that when I took my boys out to grab some lunch. Afterward we hung out in the play place and I let them do their thing in the tubes, crawling and climbing into the stratosphere. Within a few minutes, though, I heard some commotion up in its far reaches... apparently one of my boys had gotten slugged by another kid.
Keep in mind, I'm all for kids working out their own issues whenever possible. Given the enclosure of those tubes, though, I was a bit concerned it would continue since most kids assume adults can't get up there. Thoughts of "two men enter, one man leaves" began to pound within my head, so within seconds I'd climbed up into "Thunderdome."
I discovered a five-year old boy was the culprit, and he was smiling about it. Yes... he was actually smiling. You see, this kid didn't accidentally step on my son's toes - he slugged him and he didn't care.
Meanwhile, I could spot his mom in the next room who was hearing from the kid's big brother what happened. She eventually came over... after she ate her fries and sandwhich first, not to mention a free drink refill.
Here's what I realized as my blood began to boil - one of my boys was hurt, this other kid did it on purpose, no one was helping, and I didn't want it to happen any further.
And so I found myself itching to pick a fight wth a strange kid in a Play Place.
But not really.
Well, yeah... I guess really.
Nothing bad, though - I did swing a good Clint Eastwood stare down (sorry, I'm not perfect).
Let me step out of my carnality to share a God connection here.
Jesus Christ hears the cries of His people everyday and engages in a passionate, all-out search and rescue for us. His love is seen in His death by crucifixion and life through Resurrection, and yet it transcends it - for while these events happened in time they leap up into the "tubes" of eternity to connect with us on a daily basis. God's constantly dealing with a devilish adversary who smiles while hurting those the Lord cares about... and He doesn't want it to happen any further.
And here's what's even more amazing...
when you and I decide to join Him in ministry, we help stop the pain from continuing on.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:8-10)
Keep in mind that no church is perfect, and there will be times Christians who genuinely love God accidentally step on one another's toes. This is different from an intentional slug, and so if it happens let's be real about it with the right people so reconciliation can happen. Doing life together is messy, but we connect with a God who unites and connects us.
God dreams for us to stop the real "pain" from continuing - the kind that allows people far from Him to continue on without Him. Did you know the Church is His "plan A" to care for the hurt, stop those who are harming others on purpose, rally others to help, and prevent the unnecessary pain from happening any further?
That's why I think it's worth spending time in the Bible, in prayer, and in key discussions together about how this all fleshes out. Something tells me that every Christian matters in what is about to happen over the next years of church history, and so if that means you I hope you're looking forward to what God will ask of you and I so that we can each do what He asks.
But... that probably doesn't include laying a smackdown on a mean kid.
Please let me know if that changes, though.
(Yes, apparently I'm still imperfect and messy)