By Jimmy Tuten
Recently a hurt and bewildered individual who is a Christian expressed the feeling of being rejected and avoided while attending church. This person had good reason to believe that she was being snubbed. But often when such matters are brought to the attention of fellow-Christians, the immediate response is “ridiculous,” or “she’s just a church baby.” But is “snubbing” really ridiculous? Can a Christian have the spirit of Christ while at the same time possessing neglect for the one who feels snubbed? I know that we are not immune to personality clashes, and some of us have to restrain our friendship under certain conditions. There are times when it might be expedient to withhold some expression of friendship as in the case of one who refuses to “bear his own burden” (Gal. 6:5) or if he “would not work” (2 Thess. 3:7-10). Even in the name of Christ one cannot encourage “church begging” or refusal to accept personal responsibility. But do we have to refuse to give off a lubricating warmth in violation of such commands as “let love be without dissimulation” (Rom. 12:9)? Under no condition is a chilly gaze of hostility justifiable conduct for a person who claims to be guided by the Lord’s golden rule (Matt. 22:39). When one withholds the common courtesy of friendly warmth, the end result is a snub! Check your dictionary, for it defines the word “snub” as to “behave coldly toward; slight or ignore.”
On the other hand, those who hang back and refuse to be part of the inner circle because they fear rejection must shoulder their part of the blame. Many times the very person who speaks of rebuff is the very one who comes into worship just as the services begin and leaves immediately afterward. Fear then becomes the basis of seclusion, not necessarily the lack of friendliness. One cannot be friendly with another when the recognition that friendship is a two-way street does not exist. Where one is not friendly, any indication (intended or otherwise) of coolness will be interpreted as rejection. Such is not necessarily an expression of a deliberate snub.
In this the Bible has a lesson for all of us. The faithful cannot ignore the weak conscience of a fellow-Christian (1 Thess. 5:14). The act of snubbing is a stumbling block (Matt. 18:6). Instead of casting stumbling blocks in the paths of others, we should “support the weak, be patient toward all men” (1 Thess. 5:14). “Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this matter, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (Rom. 14:13). The one who feels snubbed may indeed be in the wrong, but we who profess to be strong should bear them up.
On the other hand, what is the reaction of one who is snubbed? Hurt, anger, or revenge? Do you run off looking for a “friendly church”? No doubt there is often a basis for feeling snubbed. But should one try to get even? The New Testament says: “avenge not ourselves. . . I will repay saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:9). Look at our Lord: He was snubbed by the most influential of His day, and yet He had compassion for them (Matt. 23:37). Let us have this mind in us (Phil. 2). Do not seek revenge, but rather let the Lord deliver you from your enemies (if you have any, Psa. 18:47). To reward “snubbing” with understanding is a practical way to live out New Testament Christianity in the Christian life.
A Hindu woman was once converted to Christianity and suffered a great deal at the hands of her husband who was not a Christian. Someone asked her, “When your husband is angry and persecutes you, what do you do?” She replied, “Well, sir, I just cook his food a little better. When he complains, I sweep the floor cleaner. When he speaks harshly, I answer him mildly. I try to show in every way possible that when I became a Christian, I became a better wife and mother.” Who would deny that this woman’s husband was not touched by her practical teaching?
Let me make a practical suggestion. When someone snubs you next time, ask yourself if you are snubbing that person. Do not wait for people to talk to you. Go talk to them! Most people are responsive and eager to carry on a conversation. They will thus include you in their circle of friendship, Most people would not think of giving you the slightest hint of a snub, for most of the followers of Christ are unexpectedly interested in you. But you will have to be a friend to have friends. This realization should make those who appear cold and indifferent accessible to you. The next time you are snubbed, try loving the one who snubs you a little more and let the Lord avenge the wrong. There is only one reason why your enemy cannot become your friend–you!
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 18, p. 551
September 20, 1984