Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

11/29/2017

Randall Caselman

 

Resolving Our Differences

 

  Conflict... It seems to be everywhere we turn. It destroys our families, divides churches, ruptures relationships. Conflict is destroying our country’s political system. Conflict keeps the world on the brink of war. However, Scripture is filled with admonitions to keep the peace, to nurture the love that flows and the tie that binds us together. Problems arise, things are said, feelings are hurt, intentions misunderstood; but our aim must be to resolve our differences. Is such peace and unity possible today? I believe it is, and I believe our relationships are worth it. Amen?

 

John 17.21 – Jesus prayed for peace and unity among believers.

Romans 12.18 – “As far as it depends on you, live in peace with all men.”

2 Corinthians 13.11 – “Be of one mind, live in peace.”

Galatians 5.22 – “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.”

1 Thessalonians 5.13 – “Live in peace with each other.”

1 Peter 3.11 – “Turn from evil, do good, and seek peace.”

Ephesians 4.2 – “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

 

  If peace and unity are so important, how can we heal our hurts and resolve our differences?

 

  Examine self. Here it is, we must never be the cause of the conflict. Listed among the sins that God hates most is sowing discord among brothers. Some of us are simply conflict-minded. We must be changed people. We must be willing to admit fault, take the hit. Pursue peace! Like David, we must examine our hearts: “Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139.23-24).

 

  See both sides of the issue. There are two sides to any disagreement, sometimes three: mine, yours, and the truth. We must be big enough to see the conflict from the position of the other person, willing to walk a mile in their shoes before we jump to conclusions and criticize. “Do unto others, as you would have them do to you.” “Consider others better than yourselves.” “Place the interest of others before self.” “Love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you and despitefully use you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely.” If we tried these verses on for size, most of our differences would be resolved. Amen? Are we willing?

 

  Correct in private. Conflicts are infectious! We spread the virus. As we involve others, we have a tendency to inflate truth, slant the facts, gossip, even lie, to improve our position. But here is God's way: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault just between the two of you”(Matthew 18.15). Conflicts are to be settled privately. We must stop trying to explain away Scripture, and just submit to the text, because God has called us to peace, unity, and a love of the brethren.

 

  Learn to take correction. This is tough for any of us. “He who hates correction is stupid. He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding” (Proverbs 12.1 & 15.32). Again, when we're wrong: We must take the hit, be big enough to admit our mistakes, acknowledge our faults, and have the heart of Jesus: “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2.23).

 

  Practice conflict prevention. Our differences do not have to become conflicts. Romans chapter fourteen was written to keep peace in a multicultural church, to keep their differences from becoming divisive and disruptive. Paul said, don’t offend a brother. Don’t violate your conscience or his, even if you are right. In disputable matters, being right can be wrong when we cause others to stumble, or by winning the argument we cause conflict and division. We are the problem; we become the guilty party. We are to “submit to one another.” Lose the argument – Win the war! Save a brother. Keep a friend.

 

  Life is too short, friends too few, friendship too dear, fellowship too sweet, to let our differences rule. God has called us to be peacemakers, peacekeepers. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” Resolve to be a peacemaker. Amen?

 

—Randall Caselman