At the conclusion of our Peacemakers series, we gathered together for services of reconciliation and healing, bringing teaching together with opportunities for people to deal with hurts they have been harbouring and people they have failed to forgive. Ros brings us this talk, and explores how to move on from conflict in our lives.
Dealing with conflict is not just a matter for individuals but a group activity that should be a marker of the church community. Jesus prays for unity and love in the church and our community should be counter-cultural in the way that we deal with conflict: not ignoring it but being willing to repent and forgive and to move forward with reconciliation and love. What a powerful witness this would be if we did it!
Continuing our Peacemakers series, on how to deal with conflict, when we get to the end result of the self-examination process, and after gently raising the issue with another person we must aim to seek reconciliation. Jesus commands us to prioritise sorting out conflicts even over worship and participation in religious traditions! He also challenges us to go and seek reconciliation if we know someone is holding something against us for what we did to them.
Rather than sweeping conflict under the carpet and avoiding it we need to honestly and gently approach with other people when they have hurt or wronged us. Jesus tells us to go directly to the other person and deal with it one-on-one. This is perhaps the most ignored command in Scripture and we are often guilty of gossiping or complaining to other people rather than addressing the person concerned.
The starting point for dealing with conflict is to search our own hearts and lives and see what we have contributed to the problem. Jesus tell his disciples to remove the log from their own eye before they try to remove the speck from someone else’s eye. Conflict gives us an opportunity to come before God, and to ask whether there are idols in our life that are fuelling this conflict, before repenting of the areas where we are causing the conflict.
While many people see conflict as simply a problem it is also an opportunity where we can bring glory to God in the way that we approach it. As Christians we want to glorify God in all that we do and conflict is no exception. David in Psalm 37 is honest about conflict but encourages trusting in God and committing our way to him in the midst of it. He warns that evildoers will face God’s judgement but that the meek will enjoy peace.
The second episode in our Peacemakers series identifies that dealing with conflict is a gospel issue. This is not some sideline topical issue that we may or may not want to think about but is at the heart of our everyday lives. Broken humans are in conflict with God and considered his enemies. Fortunately for us, through the cross, God brings reconciliation and restores a conflict filled, broken relationship. When we're forgiven by Jesus, we need to apply the truth of the gospel to our own relationships and be active in seeking reconciliation.
This new series looks at the reality of conflict. The Church today is the most conflict prone organisation in the world, and the most conflict adverse. This, believe it or not, should be expected! The Church brings in people with different habits, different backgrounds, different life experiences. The only common thread is Jesus. There is no criteria for goodness in the church.
The Bible passage for this talk is James 4:1-3.