We have a ministry in our church called the “Ministry Resource Team” or MRT. This ministry is designed to provide funds for people who need financial assistance in our community. This is an excellent resource that helps people on a monthly basis, but as you can well imagine it has the potential of being abused. In order to protect the integrity of the ministry we have to set certain boundaries. We can only offer this as a one time assistance and more often than not we only pledge a certain amount depending on funds available and determined need. If we didn’t set these boundaries the same people would be in the office week after week asking for assistance. People who have a general sense of need often develop codependent relationships with those who are willing to offer assistance. This is just one of several things we must do in order to continue to provide this particular assistance.
In the same way we set boundaries in our MRT program, Christians must set boundaries in their relationships with others. I certainly think we should be charitable and kind to people around us, but being a Christian and loving people does not have to translate into being used and abused. It’s important for us to set our own boundaries when it comes to our relationships. It is not “un-Christian” to set boundaries and it is not “un-Christian” to say no. People we interact with need to know that we have limits and boundaries that cannot be crossed. Lets face it, even Jesus had boundaries. He asked people he healed not to tell who he was, so as not to draw a large crowd. He would go out into a boat or slip off to a quiet, undisclosed location to get away from people pressing him to heal them and perform miracles.
I think sometimes Christians are guilty of confusing gentleness, kindness, and love with acceptance and tolerance. We’ll accept and tolerate almost anything from people who live under the “Christian” name or under the guise that we are to love one another. Many people even use this as an excuse for bad behavior. We can’t tell anyone they are wrong because “we’re supposed to love people.” This is another boundary that we must set. If people begin to behave or speak inappropriately, we have the right to say something. That is called love. I know this because I have to do it with my 16 month old son all the time. Tolerating bad behavior simply enables people to continue to live wrongly.
Boundaries are important in our lives. They not only provide some sense of organization and order, but they protect us from being used and abused which leaves us with nothing left to give.
I write this out of consern. While I understand that love should be the anthem of Christianity, I also willingly admit that we need to better understand what that means. We must be willing to stand strong for Christ in all that we do. This includes the boundaries that we set in order to protect the integrity of our relationship with Christ and our love and ministry to others. Be careful that you don’t become so consumed with doing “good” that you lose sight of what Christianity is all about.