Wake The Sleeping Tiger

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
— James Baldwin

One of my favorite Peanuts comic strips featured Linus and Charlie Brown talking about problems. Linus said, “I don’t like to face problems head on. I think the best way to solve problems is to avoid them. This is a distinct philosophy of mine … No problem is so big or so complicated that it can’t be run away from!”

Like Linus, many of us treat the problem of confrontation like a sleeping tiger—something to be avoided at all costs. Our motto?

Never wake a sleeping tiger!

At times we may think we can avoid the tiger of confrontation by "sweeping it under the rug.”  This may hide the tiger, but it does not get rid of it. The tiger just gets bigger and nastier.

Avoiding confrontation does not help us either. The stress from tip-toeing around the sleeping tiger can lead to ulcers, headaches, high blood pressure, colitis, heart ailments, and a perpetual frown. That is why God says, "Don’t avoid confrontation—face it!"

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”
— Matthew 18:15 NIV

Jesus knows the longer we wait, the bigger the tiger gets. The longer we wait, the sharper its teeth. That is why he tells us to GO! For Christ followers, confrontation is not an option. Jesus was giving a command.

  • Are you at odds with a friend? Go and work it out. 
  • Has someone offended you? Go and speak the truth. 
  • Is someone is holding a grudge against you? Go and seek reconciliation.

Why do we have to take the first step? Why not wait until the other person comes around? Interestingly, the motivation for reconciliation is the example of God. Jesus precedes this admonition by telling us the parable of the lost sheep.

The Good Shepherd pursues the one sheep that went astray, should not his followers do the same? James Baldwin said,

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

A rocky marriage never smooths out on its own. The problem has to be faced. An irritating co-worker is not going to stop his or her annoying ways unless someone confronts that individual in a loving way. Problems at church will not simply disappear. They must be addressed, discussed, and resolved.

God wants you living in peace, not living with angst. Go ahead, wake that tiger.