GOD - we look upward for perspective (our first stop, not our last resort)
ME - we look inward for inspection (slows us down & softens us up)
THEM -we look outward for resolution
God's Better Plan in navigating conflict is an upside down wisdom from our normal path, where we usually start by focusing on the other person and dwell on the conflict.
Five specific action steps of looking outward toward the other person, and moving forward in your pursuit of peace:
Which one of these steps we choose and how many of them we take depend on the situation, and where we stand in conflict with the other person.
June 4 - Navigating CHURCH collisions
June 11 - Navigating MARRIAGE collisions
June 18 - Navigating HOME collisions
June 25 - Navigating CULTURE collisions
Four messages that address how we should navigate conflict in some of the most challenging relational situation we face.
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
We are a community of grace and truth inviting people to know and follow Jesus. Resolving conflict and striving for unity in the church are important because the honor of God and the credibility of the Gospel message are at stake. We can have a nice building, big crowds, polished services, dynamic programs, and correct beliefs, but if we handle conflict poorly, then everything we say we stand for will just ring hollow and empty.
1 John 4:20-21 NIV
20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
1. Believe the Best, not Suspect the Worst
We all have an internal default setting of how we approach people and relationships. If we suspect the worst in each other, then we will read meaning into everything done and said to us. That then leads to conflicts over everything. If we can believe the best in each other, we'll be a little more hesitant to jump to conclusions when something seems off. We'll be willing to suspend judgment and resist the temptation to immediately go to a dark place.
Navigating Church Conflict
2. If you can’t believe the best, then: Go immediately (don’t delay); Go directly (don’t gossip); Go solo (don’t gang-up)
There are times when someone else’s words and deeds make it hard for us to believe the best in them. While we want to suspend judgment and not jump to conclusions, there’s just too much evidence to let things slide. So when we need to address them, we need to go immediately to them rather than putting it off. We need to go directly to them rather than everyone else. We also need to start with a one-on-one conversation rather than ganging up on them with other involved right away.
Looking Outward: Five Specific Actions
3. Bring the Golden Rule into your conflict.
It’s the law of mutual respect: Treat others the way you want to be treated.
So if you’re trying to resolve conflict and pursue peace with another Christian, put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself the question, “If the roles were reversed, what would I want them to say to me… how would I want them to say it to me… when would I want them to say it to me… where would I want them to say it to me?” We don’t want other people nit-picking us over the tiny, little specks of sawdust in our own eye, while ignoring the planks in their eyes, so we need to do the same with them. In the same way that we’d like a little grace from others because we don’t always get it right, we need to be able to extend that same kind of grace to them when they blow it. This is the Golden Rule in action as we work through conflict with other Christians.
Matthew 7:12 NIV
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
While we're not a perfect church, it's encouraging to see that there a lot of people here who want to honor God in everything they do, including the difficult steps of resolving conflict and pursuing peace. This reflects the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ working its way through every fiber of our being. Instead of being held captive to anger, fear, hatred, and bitterness, the love of Jesus is living in us and shining through us. Let's keep it going for the glory of God and the good of others.