Re-Assembly Required
Week 1

Have you ever noticed how when we encounter relational turmoil, it is typically because the other person sees things their way, and you see things the right way? I tell Laurie all the time, life would be so much easier if she could learn to see things the right way, which is my way, all the time.

But if you are like me, you have a hard time getting other people to consistently see things your way and to do things the way you want them to be done. I am talking about your spouse, family members, coworkers, employees, your kids, your parents, your mother-in-law, etc.

Here is something we all believe…If EVERYONE could just see things my way, EVERYTHING would be okay. Don’t we all think this? If you think about the fractured or broken relationships in your life, past or present, wouldn’t it change everything if everyone could just learn to see things your way?

A lot of the content I will be sharing over the next few weeks comes from a message series I hear from Andy Stanley. That series has been especially helpful to me as I wrestle through its content on a personal level.

Over the past few months, I feel like I am constantly putting our disclaimers with every message series to say that these are things I am working on. God is still at work refining in me the image of His Son. Some days I feel like I still have so far to go. But the good news is, God has not given up on me, and I am not giving up either, because I know that the final outcome will be worth the effort. So, I keep pressing on knowing that whenever and wherever I fall short, I can always count on God’s grace to get me through. And there is no doubt about it, relationships are one of the biggest challenges we face in life.

Today, we are beginning a four-week series called Re-Assembly Required. When relationships are broken, Re-Assembly is the last thing on our mind. Emotions are often running high, and our tendency is to walk away. In the moment, we may not care about reassembly. In fact, we may have no desire to restore the relationship.

We may think that repairing the relationship will take too much time and be too much trouble. It may not seem like it is worth the effort. We tend to BLAME others for the TROUBLE in the relationship. As a result, we don’t feel responsible for the trouble, therefore we feel no responsibility to try to repair the relationship.

So often, our tendency is to ask a question that most of us have been asking for a good part of our lives. What is wrong with these people? Why don’t they learn to think, act, drive, and live like me? If they could just learn to see things my way, the world would be a better place.

Maybe that should be the title for this series – How to get people to see things my way, which is of course, the right way. The problem is that the right way is different for all of us. When people don’t see things my way (the right way) it just holds up progress, keeps us living in turmoil, continues overshadowing holiday gatherings, and it prevents us from moving forward in the relationship.

To get people to see things the way we see them, we typically will try one or more of these four tactics…

Tactics we use to get people to see things our way:
Convince – Convict – Coerce – Control

Honestly, do any of these approaches help us create healthy relationships? Of course not. Are any of them effective? NO! They just add to the tension that already exists, making matters even worse. one of us want any of these tactics to be used on us.

As you consider the current relational turmoil you may be facing…You are convinced THEY are the problem. They are convinced YOU are the problem. So, we try to Convince – Convict – Coerce – and Control other people to get them to move in our direction. Even though these things don’t work, these are the first things most of reach for, either intentionally or unintentionally, to resolve relationship problems. And most of us have stories to tell about how attempting these things didn’t make things better. In most cases, they only made matters worse.

Attempting to Convince – Convict – Coerce – and Control people typically doesn’t bring them closer to us, instead, these things often push them further away. It really doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult to fix a relationship. But it is. And most of us have more stories to confirm that reality than we would care to admit.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to focus on four important decisions you must make on the road toward reconciling relationships. As we get started, I want to ask you to answer a simple question: Which is easier – starting a relationship or repairing a relationship?

Starting a relationship is easy – Fixing or repairing a relationship is not

Most of us are better at starting our car, or driving our car, than we are at fixing our car. We start it and drive it, but when something goes wrong, we don’t know what to do. It is the same thing with relationships. None of us believe relationships are repaired by trying to convince, convict, coerce, or control other people. Most of us know better than that. We don’t want anyone to use those tactics on us. But then we get into situations where we attempt to utilize these strategies, even though we know they are ineffective.

That is true partly because we have never been taught how to effectively deal with broken relationships, and it is true because we are selfish, and our heart is deceptive.

We see things from a very narrow perspective. And that deceptive heart has a way of always spinning things in our direction, doesn’t it?

For instance, when we say, “I am sorry if you were offended by what I said” in a roundabout way, we are putting the blame on the other person. It is not that what I said was wrong. You took it the wrong way. I would never say the wrong thing. You just didn’t understand. It would help if you would learn to see things my way – AKA the right way. We say things like…“I said, ‘I am sorry,’ why are you still so upset? I have done my part. If you are not fine, something must be wrong with you.”

This series will be more meaningful for those who are willing to own this issue from the very start – we are so selfish, and our hearts are so deceptive. That is why…

Reassembling a broken relationship is a LEARNED SKILL

It is not something that comes naturally to most people. If it did, there would be a lot less broken relationships in our world today. Most of us were never taught how to do this. Many of us have never seen it modeled. In fact, I suspect most of us can point back to conversations we have overheard with others, maybe a parent, a sibling, or someone else, and when they talk about a broken particular relationship in their past, you see the emotion that brings up and you can’t help but think how ridiculous it is. You just want to say, are you kidding me? You ended a meaningful relationship because off that?

Pick up the phone and call them. Write a letter. Go see them. Work it out. Stop being so petty. Get over it! Too much has been lost over something so small. Take them to lunch. Fix it. Reassemble it. Reconcile. Don’t let this go on one more day.

People avoid each other. They try not to make eye contact when they are forced to be in the same setting. Then someone gets injured or dies and there is a funeral. You find yourself in a very emotional environment. Suddenly you are in a situation where that mountain that was so big, suddenly seems so small. So many years have been wasted. So many opportunities lost. It is in setting like these that so many people finally say and do what they should have said and done a long time ago.

Most of us could tell stories about years of a relationship that we lost, or we have seen lost in our families. And IF things finally did get resolved, we wonder why it took so long. The reason these issues are allowed to linger is because…We WAIT on the other person to fix it, rather than taking the initiative ourselves. And we keep REHEARSING the story over and over again. And every time we repeat it, the wound gets etched deeper and deeper. The divide gets wider and wider. And we start AVOIDING the other person(s). We end up waiting on the other person to do what we should do.

The reason we should do what we are waiting on them to do is that we are the better person. And the way we can know you are the better person is just by listening to the way you tell the story about what happened. When you tell the story, it is always their fault. It is never your fault. And if it is their fault, and never your fault, then you are the better person. Right?

This can happen to any of us. And it has probably happened to all of us. And if you are fortunate enough to be in a situation where both people are committed to working things out, reconciliation is still so difficult. But think about those situations where one or the other is unwilling to make this kind of commitment.

Relational tensions are highly VOLATILE because they are so EMOTIONAL

We are afraid of how the other person will respond. We are uncertain how things might look or feel going forward. This is often the reason why so many husbands and fathers shut down. The situation seems helpless and hopeless, and it is out of your control.

When it comes to fixing the relationship, you are afraid to even go there because you don’t know where there is. So, we sometimes make excuses and stay in some sad and unfortunate places.

Here is something that may take off some of the pressure when it comes to repairing or restoring broken relationships. Understand that –

The goal for a broken relationship is not RECONCILIATION…

When you think about a broken object, you have control over all the pieces. That is not the case when it comes to broken relationships. When it comes to repairing broken relationships, NOBODY has control to all the pieces. We can pray for reconciliation We can work toward reconciliation. And we should! But reconciliation cannot be the goal.

And this is the reason why – You cannot reconcile the relationship on your own and you have no control over the other person. You cannot make them reconcile, or even come to the table to discuss the possibility of reconciliation. What if the goal for a broken relationship is not RECONCILIATION…but instead…


That is something I can control. Having no personal regret in the relationship – that depends on me. Instead of setting a goal to reconcile, what if the win is found in knowing you did everything you knew to do to make things right? You opened the door. You rolled out the welcome mat. You initiated the conversation. You took responsibility. You laid down your weapons and you removed every possible obstacle to reconciliation. And you did it because of a sincere desire to reconnect with that other person.

No matter whose FAULT it was or is, I always have a part to play in the process of RECONCILIATION. Now this is where it gets sticky. The title for this series is Reassembly Required. We have talked about what reassembly looks like and what it means, but what does it mean to say that reassembly is required? Isn’t reconciliation optional?

Reconciliation is optional – UNLESS you are a Jesus follower.

Reconciliation is about RESTORING a relationship. Reconciliation is the operative noun in the Christian faith. The Gospel is a story of reconciliation. If you are a Christian, the story of your redemption is a message of reconciliation.

God wanted more than forgiveness in His relationship with humanity. He wanted the relationship to be restored. Forgiveness is only half of the equation. You can forgive someone at a distance. You can forgive someone and never make any attempt to reconcile. But reconciliation is the ultimate win. That is true in our relationship with God, and it is true in our relationships with one another. According to Jesus, the two go hand in hand.

Forgiveness is easier. When it comes to forgiveness, I hold all the cards. I get to make the decision to forgive. Since God forgave me, I can choose to forgive others as I have been forgiven. I am in the driver’s seat when it comes to forgiveness. I control whether I will choose to forgive or not.

Reconciliation is not as easy. Reconciliation is often inconvenient. Sometimes it is unsafe, and it may be unwise, but those are the exceptions. In some ways, I think we have tried to reduce Christianity to a simple formula that says, “God forgives me. I’ll forgive you. All is well.” That approach keeps us looking up, but it does not require us to look around.

Do you understand that God wants more than to just forgive you? Forgiveness is a means to an end. He wants a relationship. When God forgives, the desired outcome is a reassembled relationship. The relationship between you and God was broken by sin. God’s forgiveness is about restoring what was broken. It is about coming back together.

Jesus said, now you are to do for others as I have done for you. You are to love others as I have loved you. He was not content to just forgive, He went the second mile to reconcile a relationship with us. He removed ever obstacle that stood in the way between himself and all of us.

The Apostle Paul understood this. “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” – Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT) In the NIV – Verse 5 – “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:”

What relationships was Paul talking about? The easy ones? The hard ones? The ones with the people I get along with? The ones with the people I don’t? He didn’t say anything about separating them. That’s why I believe he means in ALL our relationships with one another, have the same mindset of Christ Jesus.

So, what does it mean to have the mindset of Christ Jesus in all our relationships? To answer that question, just look at how Jesus approached relationships. What do we know about how our Heavenly Father approaches relationships?

Luke 15 – the parable of the Lost Sheep. This shepherd had 100 sheep. One wandered off and the Good Shepherd left the 99 to go find the one. That’s not our natural inclination, is it? When one sheep wonders off and gets separated from the flock, we typically let it go. If the one wants to come back, we are easy to find. When they get their act together, we will welcome them back into the fold, but we don’t have time to go running after the one. It is not our fault they wondered off.

Is that how Jesus approached relationships? Jesus always moved in our direction. He was seeking the lost. He took the initiative. He didn’t stand back. He didn’t wait. He made the first move. That drove the religious leaders crazy. They were not about to go chasing after anyone.

If someone is outside the circle of fellowship, that is on them. It is their responsibility to move toward us. It is not our responsibility to move toward them. But Jesus kept leaving the 99 to go search for the one.

Jesus said…“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:31–32 (NIV) These religious leaders didn’t get it. There was a lesson they needed to learn. Jesus wanted them to understand something that we all need to learn.

You can FORGIVE at a distance, but you cannot RECONCILE at a distance

Reassembling relationships requires proximity. It requires us moving toward the unreconciled, just as our Heavenly Father moved toward us when reconciliation was required in that broken relationship. If we have the mindset of Jesus, we will find ways to move in their direction. And we will remove every obstacle to reconciliation that we possibly can.

But we have to remember, the goal isn’t reconciliation. That is beyond our control. The goal is no regrets. The goal is to remove any obstacles that stand in the way of reconciliation. It is about doing all that we can do. And we hope that paves the ways to reconciliation.

I want to ask you a difficult question, that I hope you will work through and answer. What is stopping me from trying? What is stopping me from moving in their direction and trying to remove every obstacle to reconciliation? And whatever comes to mind immediately, would you be willing to set that aside temporarily, and ask the question again? What is stopping me from trying…really?

If you are not a Jesus follower, that question is optional. But if you are a Jesus follower, and you intend to live according to His Word, and if you intend to do His will and you want to have the mindset as Christ, this is required. This is how you follow Jesus.

And you may say, Steve, I am unwilling to do that right now. I get it. Are you willing to allow the Spirit of God, complete access to your heart, to create a willingness in you? Are you willing to allow Him access to examine your heart, to determine if there is anything – anything at all – that is inconsistent with the nature and character of Christ?

This is really where the rubber meets the road in our spiritual lives. And it is so easy for us to hear a message and walk out of here and do nothing about it. I pray that will not happen. This is not easy. It is not intuitive. It must be learned. I am convinced that it is His will. It is the example Jesus set. And it is possible, but I am convinced, today more than ever, it can only be done with His help. With His help, we can do our part and we can live with no regret when it comes to the important matter of relationships with one another.

This is what it looks like to follow Jesus.