Thursday, September 17, 2009

working through issues

Conflict is a part of life, even among Christians. I remember Paul's words to Euodias and Syntyche. Most of the time everyone should be able to get along among us Christians. But there are times when there is either misunderstanding or wrong done in attitudes expressed in words. And both sides need to be aware that it's rarely if ever that one is entirely right and the other entirely wrong. And there needs to be no winner and loser. Both need to come clean with each other before the Lord at the foot of the cross.

I believe that if there is a problem between myself and another brother or sister, I need to go immediately or as soon as possible to them, to resolve it. When I do so I need to listen well to what they say and seek to be sensitive to where my attitudes and actions in word and deed may have contributed to the fallout. I also need to be in the attitude of not defending myself, but simply seeking to get to the truth and expressing it in love. Yet also be humble in knowing that we know in part, here; only God knows all.

We can't change others, nor can we change ourselves, though we are to cooperate in God's working in us through Christ. We must beware of the attitude that since I can't change someone I'll simply wash my hands clean of it, and try to avoid them. Instead we need to seek to be as Christ-like in love toward them as possible. Not condescending, either, but humbly accepting where we are wrong and are not as much like Jesus as we need to become.

Grace should reign among us as Christians. That means there has to be conflict resolution, and it should be done between the two parties who are in conflict with each other. If necessary it is good to bring in another party to help bring a resolution to the matter. We have to beware of harboring critical attitudes toward another. But that is where forgiveness comes into view. We've been forgiven in Jesus, and we need to extend the offer of forgiveness immediately to others- as well as our own repentance when needed, then we need to work through our attitudes so that we forgive each other from our hearts. The former needs to be done immediately, but the latter involves heart change and therefore a process we must be engaged in over time. Scot McKnight in his book, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others, has an excellent chapter on forgiveness, "Forgiving in Jesus."

What might you like to add to this? What have you found true in your own life in this?