Confronting Those We Love

January 17, 2016 No Comments »
Confronting Those We Love

By Amanda Fillebrown

Most people cringe at even the mention of the word confrontation. This is especially true of those that they are close to—family members and friends. It is often avoided at any cost and some even wonder if confrontation is something in which Christians should be involved. Turning the other cheek and forgiving are often given as biblical mandates for avoiding confrontation. 

However, followers of Jesus must learn that confrontation does not have to be a bad word. There are times when it must take place in order to correct sin and is necessary for maintaining healthy relationships. Confrontation does not have to be intense, aggressive encounters between opposing parties. Instead, it can help to strengthen relationships and lead both individuals closer to Jesus. Jesus gave many examples of how he confronted those close to him in a way that showed the Father’s love. 

Confronting Expectations

Jesus confronted others’ expectations of him. One example of this was with his mother at a wedding banquet. The host of the wedding had run out of wine, which was a big deal during Jesus’ time. Weddings usually lasted a whole week, and the host was responsible for having enough food and wine for the guests for the duration of the celebration. Running out of wine was a serious situation for the host socially. They would have disappointed all their friends and family. 

Mary surely felt sorry for the host and wanted to help rectify the situation to avoid any embarrassment, so she went to Jesus and told him that they were out of wine. Jesus replied: “Woman, why do you involve me?” (John 2:4) This response may seem harsh to readers today as it would be impolite to address someone in this manner. However, in Jesus’ time, this acknowledgement would have been a show of respect. He addressed both the Samaritan woman at the well and also the woman who was about to be stoned for adultery in the same way. When Jesus chose to confront his mother in this passage, he did so with respect. 

Jesus then responded to his mother with the following: “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). When reading this passage people often conclude that Jesus was telling Mary that it wasn’t his time to do something that would publically show his power. However, perhaps there is even more to this interpretation of his words. Other commentators say that Jesus was letting Mary know that it was not for her to tell him what to do. Rather, he was under the authority of his Father God and his timing. Mary’s response showed that she trusted Jesus. She told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them even though he never told her he would fix the situation. 

In this confrontation with his mother, Jesus responded to her with respect. He didn’t make accusations or let emotions control how he reacted. He could have retorted that she had no right to tell him what to do. Instead, he addressed her with kindness. His response and actions were filled with grace and compassion. He also showed his dedication to God. He couldn’t do something just to please his mother, but he had to be obedient to his Father in all things. 

Confronting Attitudes

Jesus also confronted wrong attitudes in those close to him. The disciples were far from being perfect men. This becomes apparent as readers learn about them throughout the Gospels. One of the biggest areas they struggled in was pride. 

Luke 9:46-48 tells about an argument that broke out among the disciples. They were quarreling over who would be the greatest in the kingdom; they were seeking status. They wanted to be recognized as being important. This attitude and desire not only showed pride, but it also showed a lack of love and compassion for others. In another place in Scripture, readers can conclude that their families desired this too when James and John’s mother asked Jesus if her sons could sit at his left and his right in the kingdom. 

The disciples had given up a lot to follow Jesus, and it is likely they wanted to know they would get something in return. They wanted some assurance that the decisions they were making would benefit them in some way. However, they had forgotten that true followers had to be willing to give up everything. As followers of Jesus, people are called to serve others above themselves. True disciples must learn to sacrifice and serve others regardless of the cost. 

Jesus pointed out that there is no room for pride and arrogance in his Father’s kingdom. He pointed them to a little child as their example. In order to find greatness in the kingdom, they would have to become more like little children—helpless, dependent, and full of faith. Jesus could have overlooked this situation and avoided a confrontation, but he chose not to. He had to address their sinful attitudes. He knew that as long as they were living prideful and unloving lives, they would never find any place in his Father’s kingdom. In his confrontation, he spoke truth to his disciples. He did not get frustrated with them, but he corrected them by showing them an example that they could understand and pointed them back to what was right. 

Confronting Actions

Jesus confronted actions that were ungodly. It was nearing the end of Jesus’ time on earth. He knew clearly what his purpose was and he was willing to obey despite the cost. In John 18 soldiers had come to arrest Jesus and he was ready to go without a fight. Unfortunately his friends were not quite as ready as he was. 

When the high priest’s servant and others showed up to arrest Jesus, the disciples asked Jesus if they should fight them off (Luke 22:49). Instead of waiting for Jesus’ reply, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant. Jesus told him to stop. Jesus would not allow his disciples to use violence to attempt to stop what he knew was his destiny. He knew that this was all part of the plan that his Father had laid out for him (Matthew 26:52-54). Jesus told them to put away their swords. They were not just defending themselves, but they were trying to thwart the Father’s will for his life. Jesus then touched the man’s ear and healed him. 

Jesus could have stood by and let this all unfold. After all, Peter was trying to protect Jesus! However, Jesus knew that Peter’s actions were wrong and that they went against the Father’s plan. Jesus was more concerned about obeying God’s plan for his life; he was not willing to let his friends get in the way of that. Jesus did not just walk away from the situation, but instead he went in and repaired the damage that Peter had caused. Jesus did not take the side of his friends in this battle to protect them. Rather, he took the Father’s side by being obedient to his plan. 

Following His Lead

Jesus gave great examples of how to approach confrontation in a way that brings honor and glory to the Father. When in situations where we are forced to confront those closest to us, we should follow his lead: 

• We should show respect to the person. 

• We should remain calm and not let our emotions control our words or actions. 

• We should be obedient to God and put his plan at the forefront of everything we do and not let others get in the way of that. 

• When offering correction or confronting sin, we should never belittle or degrade the person. Instead, it is beneficial to give examples that the person can follow and relate to. 

• We should do whatever we can to help those close to us repair the damage their actions may have caused. 

As can be seen from the examples Jesus gave, confrontation with the people closest to us is a necessary part of a good relationship, and it does not have to be a bad thing.

Amanda Fillebrown is a writer and teacher in Louisville, Kentucky.

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