There is a ton of relational collateral damage in the church. Some of it is just the flotsam and jetsam that is part of fallen human reality and some stuff is just viral, chronic dysfunction,that has taken root in the broken and wounded places of our souls. The process of exposure and healing can be a messy and often painful process for the person with the brokenness and the people around them, who suffer through the path towards wholeness.
It's much like tangoing with a Skunk or Porcupine...
Skunk people are the ones who when you get to close, press to hard, touch their idols or prick their consciences...they raise their tail's and if they perceive a provoking coming on...they spray a stink of hellashish proportions into the relational air. They often prance around with their tails half cocked...always eyeing you with suspicion. They are night dwellers. They like the shadows and the background. They love to be anonymous. They are often given to gossip. They have sharp teeth and a nasty disposition if confronted or cornered and God have mercy on your sweet little soul if you get a full dose of their noxious poison doused on you from their ass like defense mechanisms. You will suffer...long and hard. You can always tell when this person has been around...their stink lingers on everything and especially on people. Many a church or relational community has been evacuated and determined "uninhabitable" by the presences of these anti-social malcontents.
Other folks are like Porcupines...
Both Skunks and Porcupine people are cute. They often have a charm and sweetness about them that can deceive you from the distance. Masters of the art of perception...they lure people into close proximity with their qualities of genuine approachability but will turn on you once you pass their predetermined safe zone. Porcupine People meander through their lives with a pace that seems harmless...they are often jovial and humble and would never seem to want to harm a gnat.
But if you cross them...look out! A shower of soul piercing quills will be let loose upon you that will make the Persian's projectile attacks on the Spartans look like a fresh spring sprinkle! You can end up plummeted in a mass of prickly, penetrating, persnickety pins that will easily sink into your sensitive heart but resist removal, even by one with the strength of Atlas! Once stuck...you will suffer. The church is bleeding profusely from these relational wounds.
The Apostle Paul knew full well of our proclivity to such cannibalistic tendencies when he warned and admonished the Galatian believers:
"But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you are not destroyed by each other." -Galatians 5:15
In another letter to a chaotic group of divisive people, he laid out a small quote that sheds painful light on our often dark temperaments:
Love is not irritable -1 Corinthians 13:5
The simple truth is hard to face...we all have a long way to go. Some people are like lemons, when life squeezes them, they pour out a sour response. Some are more like peaches: when the pressure is on, the result is still sweet.
I pray the church of Jesus can once again be known as a safe and fragrant place of love and service. But, in order for that to happen...some of us are going to have to be radically changed from the inside out...and that means having our "stink glands" removed and our coats of chaos shorn...to become the inter-related people God desires us to be.
That is a difficult endeavor indeed...but the grace of God is present to change us. Love is a powerful tool of transformation. We all need one another to help us see and respond to the process of growth that the Spirt is outworking among us as a community of faith. Together in time...we are forced to face the issues within us. It is one of the blessings and hardships of walking in community. Grace provides space to face...our crap. It then empowers us to accept what is, has been and could be and move towards a healthier life.
That is the rough road of discipleship...some people embrace it...many run from it...spraying and shaking with uncontrollable defensiveness.