This week we are going to focus on conflict resolution in our various relationships. Have you ever noticed the bible is full of conflict? The disciples of Jesus seemed to argue a lot, Jesus Himself was in constant friction with the religious leadership, and you might even call Paul the Apostle of conflict. He had to oppose Peter to his face, he had a sharp disagreement with Barnabas over John Mark, and he seemed to have to defend his apostleship constantly. We don’t have time to review all the examples throughout the Old Testament. Elijah and Ahab/Jezebel, Sarai and Hagar, Saul and David, Moses and Miriam/Aaron, just to name a few. The book of Job is mostly one big argument between Job and his friends.
Is it any different today? Do you have a single relationship in your life that hasn’t experienced conflict? Conflict goes all the way back to the beginning of man’s existence when Adam and Eve ate of the tree and created conflict with God. Today it is this essential conflict, between God and man, we are going to explore in order to learn how to resolve conflict in all of our relationships.
The most significant relationship we have in this life is with our God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Every single one of us has experienced conflict in this relationship because of sin. Look at Romans 5 and consider what God did to resolve this conflict.
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:6-10
God initiated the reconciliation: “While we were still helpless…while we were enemies”, God took action. He didn’t wait for our willingness or even our acknowledgement of the problem.
Reconciliation did not depend on our “worthiness: Notice the words used to describe us in this text…”helpless”, “ungodly”, “sinners”, and “enemies”. They don’t really scream of our worthiness do they? Did we deserve His efforts towards resolution?
God sacrificed, to His own hurt, to resolve the conflict because He loved us: “God demonstrated His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Not only did God take the first step towards reconciliation for a bunch of unworthy enemies but He did it at great personal cost because He loved us. Not a warm fuzzy feeling but vulnerable, sacrificial, painful love. Conflict resolution starts with love.
God offers reconciliation but doesn’t force anyone to accept it: The vast majority of people will reject the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Do you think God knew that when He initiated the plan for our redemption? Do you think Jesus knew that when He hung up there on the cross? Yet God still acted. God still reached out to resolve the conflict.
In sending and sacrificing Jesus, God provides us the motivation and the pattern to resolve conflict within all our relationships. We must have the trust and the courage to follow His example. But there is one last thing to consider. Think on past conflicts or current conflicts. How often is the conflict 100% one person’s fault? Usually both parties share some of the blame and even when someone else might start the conflict, my improper reaction will often escalate the situation. Now what about our conflict with God? Our choice to sin is what caused the conflict and it was 100% our fault and yet…God still reached out and provided us with a path towards reconciliation. What excuse are we left with?
Note from Aaron: We will pick back up on the Monday Beatitude series next Monday (May 16), Lord willing.