Conflict

GOOD GRIEF, ANOTHER ARGUMENT?

Some Christians love to argue

When they listen to other Christians talk, you can see the anticipation in their eyes as they hope there are slight differences of opinion they can wrangle over. They view the internet as one of history’s greatest gifts, because it provides endless opportunities for arguments with believers they have never even met.

Certainly there are theological battles worth fighting

However, there is also the question of our motives in these battles. Is this truly for God’s honor or for our pride? Is it love for God and neighbor that gets you into controversy, or is it a proud desire to strut your opinions, flaunt your learning, and see your enemy discomfited?

Does this battle need to be fought?

What is actually being accomplished for Jesus’ Kingdom? From my perspective most battles are in defense of our own kingdom and pride.

Just as importantly is how we treat people as we enter these battles

There are never to be times when we neglect the fruit of the Spirit in how we interact with people! 

At Christianity.com, Jim Hamilton wrote an article entitled, “Do you love controversy or people?” If you find yourself regularly in verbal battles, I hope you will take 5 minutes to read the article and ask God to reveal your own heart to you.

If we truly are concerned with truth, then we must be concerned for it in our heart most of all

R

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.18.16

‘Reconciliation is not Optional’       

 

A major theme in Philippians is unity with one another and in mission (1:27). In chapter 4 Paul addresses two leading women in the church whose conflict threatened both of these

Philippians 4:1-3

 

We Don’t Know the Reason for Their Conflict

But it was serious: it is a rare step for Paul to correct people in a church by name

And it was affecting the whole church: this correction is addressed in a letter to the whole church

When members of ‘the body’ are in disharmony, the church will be weakened

The women were living in contradiction to the heart of the entire letter

1:27 tells us to live worthy of the gospel – but they were not

2:4 says don’t look out merely to your own interests – but they were

 

Look How Paul Approaches Reconciliation

1.  Paul approaches them with an abundance of grace (v1)

This is how God approached us in order to reconcile us to himself and it continues to be how he deals with us

We are acting hypocritically when we brush graciousness aside

The reality of the sin in these women didn’t override the reality of how Paul loved them; and the reality that Paul loved them didn’t override the need to confront their sin

Our approach to reconciliation doesn’t imitate Christ, if it is not filled with grace

2.  Paul addresses the women equally and earnestly (v2)

Paul didn’t pick sides, or even deal with the outward issue

The rightness of one or other was secondary to the wrongness of their conflict

Each had a heart condition that needed be addressed – they were holding on to an offense

Each had an attitude to change – they thought the other was unworthy of fellowship (grace)

Each had actions to take – to forgive completely and forever

Biblical reconciliation requires careful biblical self-examination

3.  Paul wants them to see their “situation” in its true context (v3)

This was a gospel issue – they were gospel recipients (“names in the book of life”)

Mission of church issue – gospel workers (“labored side by side in the gospel”)

All who are ‘in Christ’ are gospel people; reconciliation is now in our DNA (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)                  

The world needs us  not to allow anything to dilute “the ministry reconciliation”

The glory of Christ’s work in the gospel deserves that we live out “the message of reconciliation”

We are inconsistent with the gospel, if our heart is not reconciled

 

Paul Gives 3 Commands For Reconciliation

1.  Stand firm in the Lord (v1)

This is the same command he gave in 1:27 to “live worthy of Christ”

If they are to respond correctly, it will be because they are rooted “in the Lord”

They have to lay aside their offense, and take up Christ

They need to refocus how they see each other, and use “the Lord’s” perspective

If we don’t approach each other “in the Lord”, instead of “standing firm”, we are drifting

 2.  Agree in the Lord (v2)

This doesn’t mean we have to agree with the other person

It means we agree that what we share “in the Lord” should keep us in fellowship

We remember that we share the same standards of love and humility (2:1-4)

We recognize that we will share the same eternity that will be completely free of disharmony

3.  Help them to agree (v3)

The verb “help” indicates strong action. It is elsewhere translated ‘seize’ and ‘grasp’

Whether the “true companion” refers to a person or the church community, it lets us know that we have a role to help reconcile fellow-believers

Hopefully we can help informally through prayer and encouragement

But if this doesn’t work, then church leaders are required to step in

If we ignore infection in the body, then biblical community will fail

WISDOM TO STAY UNITED

divided-church

Have you ever disagreed with something done by the leadership of your church?

If you have attended Greentree Church for more than a few weeks, we have probably done something that you questioned, didn’t understand, didn’t like or simply left you scratching your head!

Even though we love our church and we try to be serious about being biblically directed, as leaders we remain flawed and insufficient instruments.

Even when we are acting with correct wisdom, that doesn’t guarantee that every church member is processing their reactions with biblical wisdom.

The church is a gathering of “saints”, but we are all flawed in what we do and how we respond.

For these reasons it is important that in Greentree and every other church, we have a biblical perspective for how to handle questions, conflicts and honest concerns.

Fortunately God “remembers that we are dust”. He gives us grace to work through the struggles we have with one another.

A helpful place to find wisdom for ourselves and life with one another is the Old Testament book of Proverbs.

David Murray offers what he calls two “church transforming” proverbs in this article from the Head, Heart, Hand Blog.

Since we will struggle with one another, it is a wise to know the wisdom God has provided precisely for those moments

RELATIONSHIPS ARE NOT EASY

Why is it essential to think of ministry in terms of relationships?

God and theology are relational

God by nature is relational: one God who exists in three persons

The word of God is relational

God’s means of saving us is relational:  God eternally took on our nature and gave himself for us

Worship is meant to be relational

We cannot follow God unless we have a relational focus

The Great Commandments are relational

The Great Commission is relational

The fruit of the spirit are revealed relationally

The nature of the church is relational; we are the family of God and the body of Christ

How can we love or how can we show grace if we do not live out “God in us” relationally?

However relationships always bring problems

“Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox” Proverbs 14:4

Everyone you have a relationship with is a sinner

It’s impossible to have problem free relationships, but it is possible to have correct perspectives and responses

We don’t have marriage problems or relational problems, we have sin problems

Remember our people and problems don’t make us sin, they can only squeeze out what was already inside us

Even with all the mess God keeps pushing us together

He instituted the Family and the church

His word keeps pushing us into closer involvements, by telling us to love our neighbor and live in fellowship with each other

It is indefensible for a believer to isolate themselves from relationships

Ministry requires large doses of grace – patience – love – forgiveness – persistence etc

If we are to carry out a biblical perspective in relationships

Burying relational problems and ignoring them is not a biblical option

Walking away from relational problems is not a biblical option

However, God does not ask you to be run over by people; we need to establish boundaries or we are enabling their sin

In many ways life is simpler when we have a self-focus. We only have to worry about me!

But life is much fuller and fruitful when it is relational

When these relationships are God-centered, we are carrying out the most meaningful labors on earth

Ministry involves bringing more oxen into our barn

Make relationship building a way of life

Be helpful and friendly, this draws people to us

Be interested in people’s lives; people like those who listen to them over those who talk at them

Be a servant, so people realize your agenda is not just about yourself

Each morning pray about the interactions you know are ahead of you that day

Look for those who are hurting and on the outside

Our world is filled with ministry potential

If you do not see them, ask God (who does) to open your eyes

When conflicts happen, respond with God’s agenda rather than your own

We typically see conflicts in relationships as an obstacle or as a sign to leave!

God’s wants us to see these moments as opportunities for growth and ministry

Rather than focus on establishing our position, ask God how we can serve his purpose

We are not all people persons, but what we do can be about people

I RECEIVED A WONDERFUL LETTER

Conflicts, hurts and offenses take place in all significant relationships.

Sometimes these hurts tear our relationships apart. This is always a grievous result – especially among believers.

God makes it clear that reconciliation is the only biblical response we have for conflict.

Recently I received a note from someone who knew God was leading them to step forward in reconciliation.

I was overjoyed to receive this note and continue to praise God for it.

In fact, I thought their note was so thoroughly saturated in a biblical perspective that I asked permission to post it here. They graciously agreed.

Please read this letter slowing in order to identify the many biblical principles that flow through it.

Dear Pastor Kyle,

It’s been quite a few years since we spoke last and for almost as long I have often thought about the way we parted company; certainly not on the best of terms.

At the time I was incensed that you accused me of having a critical heart. In my arrogance I took that as a personal attack. Regardless of however it was meant or what basis in fact it may have had, the cause of your statement was what I said to you. I know that now. I have known it for years.

Over the passing years I have often though about sending this email, but did not do so. This morning during my devotional time, I read Matthew 5:23-24, particularly “First be reconciled to your brother.”

It immediately brought this up in my heart again and so I am sending this email as a way to say I am sorry for the things I said and the inferences I made. I was wrong to do so then. I was wrong to wait this long to apologize.

As I have continued to mature in my relationship with Christ, I’ve grown in the understanding that humility may be manifest in many ways. Few ways are better than admitting when one is wrong and showing the respect and love associated with reconciliation. So I ask your forgiveness for my words and actions.

I pray for all of you often. (We) will always be in Jesus debt for calling us. We are also in debt to many at Greentree, particularly you and your father Gene, for bringing us to the point of understanding what it means to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

I wish you all love and success with your work for Christ.

 Is there someone you need to step toward in reconciliation?

Are you willing to ask God for grace in how best to do this?

We are praying that God uses these words to encourage, inspire and guide all of us to be people of reconciliation!

WISDOM FOR THOSE IN CONFLICT

We away this week, sadly leaving our (excited) baby girl at Moody Bible College in the heart of downtown Chicago

So, this week Well-Rooted will feature links to helpful articles from other bloggers

Today’s featured article is from the Blazing Center blog:

“6 Questions to Ask Ourselves in Conflict”

WHEN MARRIAGE HAS ROUGH EDGES

I love my wife dearly. But there have been many moments when it would not have appeared that way to someone watching me with Debbie. Much less to Debbie herself.

Russ Ramsey shared a moving personal story in which many of us will find ourselves. This article titled “Scowling at the Angel” was posted in the Rabbit Room. It will hold your attention and more importantly, it will move your heart.