Handling Conflict Part II

Of no surprise to most reading this blog, people in congregations are sometimes in conflict with one another—even those with the best intentions. Several months ago, I wrote about how Paul and Barnabas handled their conflict, recorded in Acts 15—specifically focusing on what was NOT recorded to have taken place. (Read about it here.)

But that’s not all that Scripture has to say about dealing with conflict. The next time we find ourselves in conflict with fellow Christians, how would the following passages change how WE approach the situation? (It is incumbent upon us to think about ourselves and our actions before thinking about how others should change. See Matthew 7:5.)

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 
The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 1 Co 1:10–12.

Questions to consider:
1. How would my thoughts and words be different if I were working toward agreement, rather than finding a way to disagree?
2. How would my thoughts and words be different if I strove to follow Christ alone, rather than someone else?

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…
The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), Php 2:1–5.

Questions to consider:
1. How would my thoughts and words be different if I were working toward like-mindedness and oneness in spirit and purpose, rather than in opposition to those concepts?
2. How do I keep myself and my personal desires (“selfish ambition and vain conceit”) out of the conflict?
3. How would my thoughts and words be different if I actually did consider others better than myself? If I were equally as concerned about the interests of others as opposed to my own interests?
4. How would my thoughts and words be different if I adopted the mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:6-18)?

Scripture is clear. We are to find ways to come together. And we are to think and speak well of one another as we do so. May God bless us all as we seek to work together in his church!

By: Rev. Jon Braunersreuther
Mission and Ministry Facilitator, Area D

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