Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Resolving Conflict

He worked as a highway patrolman and was a new believer, but conflict soon tainted his view of the church and other believers.

Our church was involved with an interdenominational men’s group meeting monthly for Bible studies and meals. The purpose was honorable-we were men wanting other men to know Christ. Harry* was excited when we asked him to join.

Then a motion was made by a participating church to make our group interracial. All the other churches agreed but not ours. The business meeting where we discussed the matter was heated and rife with accusations and misunderstandings. And a young man who believed God loved all people and wanted them to work together had his newfound faith pierced by prejudice. He soon left the church, never to return.

Conflict is inevitable because we’re human and imperfect. It happened between the first couple and has multiplied ever since. Jesus’ If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault. (Matthew 18:15) could just as easily be translated When your brother sins against you. Though some conflicts cannot be resolved peaceably and others not at all, it’s our duty to try.

When conflict erupts, forgiveness should be the first point of attack-instantaneous and complete. We release the person from a debt they owe for a wrong they’ve committed. Apart from this, there is no hope for reconciliation.

Forgiveness is followed by personal contact. Not revenge, not avoidance, not gossip. Though the conflict was not between us, I approached Harry and attempted to explain the offensive mindset. I encouraged him not to let negative destroy positive. It’s easier and more productive when two people sit down and talk out differences.

When one on one doesn’t work, involving a few mutually respected friends may help. And if this doesn’t resolve the differences, we can agree to disagree without contentiousness.
Conflict is inevitable, but we can choose harmony even when disagreeing.

Prayer: Father, enable us to resolve conflicts promptly and in a manner honoring You.
*Name changed to protect privacy.

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