I played basketball my whole life until I was forty-five. Then my knees couldn’t stand the abuse any more. While living in Southern California I was playing basketball two early mornings a week and some Sunday nights at church gymnasiums and a Christian college in the area. Yes, I wanted to stay in shape… and because I love the game. I played with Christians and pastors in the area who also had agenda’s similar to mine.
It was my Tuesday morning game where a problem arose. I had been playing there only a few months when I began to detect an uncomfortable attitude beginning to develop between me and another player named Jeff. I couldn’t seem to identify anything that I had said or done to anger him, but it was apparent that he didn’t like me and it was beginning to frustrate me.
It seemed that every time I bumped him accidentally he got physical with me in a retaliatory manner. Sometimes he would purposely shove me and when I tried to communicate with him words attempting to calm the waters he would ignore me.
One day something happened that left no doubt that he didn’t like me and I began to dislike him as well. It was more like testosterone than anything else, but it was pretty tense nonetheless. Then for a few weeks the angry physical play between us escalated.
All week leading up to the next Tuesday I stewed. I reasoned…who does he think he is anyway? I never did anything to him. What is his problem? I decided…You know what… I don’t have to endure this abuse. I just won’t go back. I will probably never see this person again. This is Southern California with millions of people around and the chances of ever seeing him again are slim to none. Besides, I reasoned…He is the one with the problem. If anyone needs to resolve this situation, he is the one who should come to me. And I reasoned…if I approached him, he would probably deny that there ever was a problem, and I would look the fool. Sound at all familiar?
I thought along these lines all week until Monday night. It was then that God spoke to me. He said in effect, “You have no right as a Christian and a pastor to run from this situation. You know what My Word says about forgiveness and reconciliation.”
I thought I had the situation well in hand until God got involved. Then I was stuck. I asked for Him to forgive me and I put together a plan to confront my nemesis to try to resolve the situation.
I showed up the next morning about fifteen minutes early and waited outside the gymnasium door for Jeff to arrive. Secretly I prayed he wouldn’t, but uttered a sigh of resolve when I saw him ambling toward the door I was standing near.
He walked straight toward the door refusing to look at me until I said, “Jeff, could I talk to you?” He then looked at me, noticeably bothered, and sauntered over to where I was standing. He stood before me with his arms folded looking at me suspiciously with no verbal response.
I said, “Jeff, I don’t know what has happened to cause an issue between us. But it is pretty obvious that something has gotten between us.”
He cocked his head and continued to look at me skeptically, perhaps even increasing the look of distrust on his face.
I continued, “I just want to apologize for whatever I have done to perpetuate the situation. I have been acting like an idiot. Please forgive me for my attitude.”
Jeff continued to look at me with suspicion until I began to own some responsibility for the rift, at which time I saw his face begin to soften.
When I finished my apology, he said, “Well, I guess I have been kind of a jerk as well. Sure I’ll forgive you. Will you forgive me?”
And that was that. We forgave each other and played basketball together for many months with no further clashes.
Matthew 18:15 says, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”
It is good to know I have Jeff as a brother.