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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Milton’


At our most recent Presbytery meetings, one of our pastors was handing out some free copies of a little book he’d recently read. That book was Hit by Friendly Fire: What to Do When Fellow Believers Hurt You by Michael Milton.

This is a very short book, which is likely a good thing when you are struggling with betrayal and deep wounds. It is a simple book as well. It is laid out to help you quickly deal with an all to common problem. As I noted in my sermon yesterday, the church is a community of saints AND a community of sinners. We will hurt each other, sometimes deeply. Pastors sometimes not that sheep bite, and they do. The closer you are to that particular sheep, the more it hurts.

In many ways this little book is an explanation of a text in Zechariah 13.

And if one asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your back?’ he will say, ‘The wounds I received in the house of my friends.’

Zechariah’s experience as a prophet was intended to be typical of prophets and typological of Jesus Himself. Those who bring the Word of the Lord will not always be welcome among their people. They will be beaten and battered. Many were even put to death due to their unpopular message (sin and salvation has never been very popular). Jesus was rejected by His own people, cursed and reviled, given over to death at the hands of the Romans.

Leaders, particularly pastors, can draw the ire of church members because they have to say unpopular things. At times our friends, while not harming us physically, can inflict damage that hampers our ministry.

“After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds, not oaks.” Richard Sibbes

Milton notes 3 counseling sessions that had 1 thing in common; betrayal. When we are hurt, we can often respond by hurting others. We have to be wise and careful. It reveals our great need for Jesus.

“Without drinking from the divine draught of Christ’s very person, we become dry and graceless in our souls, and therefore we have no reserves to draw upon when conflict arises.”

It can be difficult for us to move on, as he notes with the metaphor of the stopped clock. We get stuck. Milton brings us to Joseph who connected his pain to God. His suffering was not accidental (nihilistic or chaos). This is not to blame God to be recognize God has good purposes in bringing difficulty into our lives, including the difficulty of betrayal.

Seeing the connection with God, we can then pick up our cross. Jesus’ suffering is a pattern for our lives, as well as His saving work. The Christian life is one of self-denial, and this is one of the key times that self-denial is necessary. First the cross and then the crown. Christ’s crown came in the context of betrayal. Ours too. It is not an excuse for self-pity and a victim’s mentality. It is the realization that I am called to die to self and follow Jesus. Like Jesus, I’m to entrust myself to the Father and continue to do good even as others line me up in their sights.

He then advises us to take off our crown. We are not in control. God is the Sovereign. It is not ours to avenge, not ours to repay. We then go to our own Gethsemene. It does sound a bit backwards since Jesus was in Gethsemene before taking up His cross. The key part of Gethsemene is “not my will but Thine be done.”

“Note carefully: if there is to be resurrection- a new life to emerge from the pain, the betrayal, the hurtful words- there must be a crucifixion; and if there is to be a crucifixion- by the Father for the good of many- then there must be a Gethsemene moment when you say, ‘Not my will but yours.'”

Just as the Father didn’t abandon His Son to the grave, He will not abandon us in our suffering either. We will be raised up, renewed. He will transform us by the pain.

He ends with an encouragement to not give up on the church. He notes a personal experience as a newer Christian when he walked into a church fight without realizing it. The pastor’s adult daughter encouraged him to not give up on God’s people. We are not all we long to be, nor do all we wish we’d do. We still live in Romans 7, and so does everyone else in the Church.

This is a helpful little book. He says enough, and doesn’t drown us with words. He gets to the point.

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