Conflict resolution

People have a habit of blaming wars on religion. Yet most of the major wars in recent history – WW1, WW2, Communist wars, Korea, Vietnam, were motivated by atheism or nationalism. Even the Irish troubles, though waged in the name of religion, were more about ethnicity.

People will find any excuse not to believe in or follow God, and blaming the wars and woes on Christians makes a great red herring.

Jesus called for a righteousness that surpassed that of the pharisees (Matt 5:20-24). They had always taught that murder was wrong – murderers would be liable to the official system of  judgement. This new teaching was not just about causing physical damage to the person, but about attitude. Why would that matter so much? Because Jesus knew people don’t need a lot of persuading not to follow God and do right. Believers acting badly towards each other is often quoted as a reason why people are not interested in church even today. Holding someone in contempt may very well be the reason someone else does not discover salvation.

The solution is interesting. You can’t offer gifts while there’s strife. So what gifts are you offering? Money, of course. But what about prayer, helping with Sunday school, serving coffee, welcoming people to church, inviting friends, playing in the worship group… Jesus said you can’t offer any of these if there’s some bad feeling.

So, I’ve got to forgive others first? Yes, certainly. But that’s not all. I have to recognise that I have done something to annoy the other person, and take responsibility for my part in the dispute, and seek reconciliation. I have to be sufficiently concerned for my brother, that he is not tempted to be angry with me! That takes some real heart-searching. That is serious righteousness. But without it, our service to God is interrupted.

We simply need to get things right so we can continue giving – we’re not let off the hook! You can’t serve God effectively while you’ve any sort of relationship issues going on, unless you have done everything in your power to resolve them.

Don’t let your conflict be an excuse for someone else turning their back on the Kingdom of God. Why not ask God how he wants you to sort it out?

 

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