Talk about going to extremes! A man in Maine took a Sawzall and cut his neighbor’s garage in half. Since part of the structure was on his property, Gabriel Brawn had a legal right to do it. The overlapping garage hadn’t been a problem for years, as his relationship with the previous neighbor was amiable.
After the neighbor died, and the new residents moved in, the conflicts began over a boundary dispute, and the animosity between the two parties escalated. A frustrated Brawn decided to bring the conflict to an end by bringing out surveyors, who concluded that part of the garage was, in fact, on his property. The neighbors had—quite literally—crossed the line. The garage was cut in half, and a privacy fence went up, equipped with surveillance cameras.
While extreme, Brawn’s solution seems to have been decisive, as there has been no communication between the neighbors since the severing (Bangor Daily News, July 18, 2020).
In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul describes the church as the “household of God.” And while disagreements have, and will, occur between Christians, severing relationships is not the way to resolve issues. That would be destructive to the household.
Jesus made the statement in Matthew 12:25 that “a house divided against itself will not stand.”
Too many times, friendships between disagreeing Christians are severed, broken in half, and seemingly destroyed because of the hurt feelings that go along with the perception of being offended.
When turmoil arises between brethren, there is trouble in God’s household.
Here are a few things to consider before decisively (and divisively) taking extreme measures to end those relationships:
Reach out. Romans 12:8 reminds the Christian that it is his responsibility to “live peaceably with all.”
Reconcile. Both parties need to make effort in order to bring each other back together. It’s vitally important to remember that the body of Christ is mutilated when its members (1 Corinthians 12:12) aren’t willing to make the effort to forgive each other (Ephesians 4:32).
Repair. In Colossians 3:13, Christians are called to remember that the Lord’s forgiveness serves as an example to model after, in order to bear with each other and forgive each other when one has a complaint against another.
Rebuild. First Thessalonians 5:11 instructs us to continue to “encourage each other and build each other up.” Doing so will allow friendships to be rebuilt.
Robert Frost wrote that “good fences make good neighbors.” With Christians, good neighbors make good neighbors.
Graeber Road church of Christ