“As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict. We also believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ.” From THE PEACEMAKER’S PLEDGE, Peacemaker Ministries
Let’s acknowledge that “opportunity” is not the first word that comes to mind when confronted with a conflicted situation, especially if we ourselves are one of the parties in that conflict. However, after further, prayerful consideration, we may properly conclude that biblical resolution to the matter does hold great potential. Let’s briefly examine the three opportunities mentioned in the pledge above.
The first opportunity may present itself more in the form of a question, “How can God possibly be glorified in this?!” In part, the answer lies in trusting, obeying and imitating our Lord, rather than succumbing to our natural response or just following our feelings, risking making the matter worse. (Psalm 37:5-6; Proverbs 3:5-7). Also, as God provides the grace to respond to conflict in ways that honor Him, we can acknowledge the Lord and the power of the gospel at work within us (Philippians 2:12-13).
The second opportunity is that of serving others in the midst of responding to conflict in a biblical way and pursuing reconciliation and restoration. “In some situations, God may use you to help an opponent understand his interests and find better solutions to his problems (Philippians 2:3-4)… In other cases, the Lord may give you an opportunity to carry your opponent’s burdens by providing for his or her spiritual, emotional, or material needs (Galatians 6:2,9-10). The Lord may also use you to help others learn where they have been wrong and need to change (Gal. 6:1).” THE PEACEMAKER, Ken Sande (Third Edition, 2004, p. 35)
The third opportunity which stems from conflict is growing to be more like Christ, which may initially mean the exposure of our own sinful attitudes or condition of our heart in a certain area. It will most likely require contrition, confession, and forgiveness on our part as a precursor to any other meaningful exchange with another party. The nature of the forgiveness spoken of in Colossians 3:12-13 begins with us addressing our own sin at the foot of the cross, in order that we might forebear with others, as well.
I invite you join me in prayerfully discerning the “opportunities” inherent to situations where we find ourselves conflicted with others, and to trust the Lord together for those realities to emerge by the powerful, supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit in what otherwise may look like very unfortunate circumstances. Watch for more information about advanced training in resolving conflict biblically to come to the NCD in the summer of 2012.