How should Christians deal with conflict?
How should Christians deal with conflict? How can Christians biblically resolve conflicts in Biblical interpretation? Is there a biblical method for resolving these differences in interpretation?
There seem to be five ongoing conflicts in the church:
1) Culture-(near) culture copying vs. cultural engagement vs. isolation vs. some other nebulous fourth alternative
2) Interpretation-letter vs. spirit interpretation (this is what is commonly labeled as liberal vs. conservative interpretation of the bible about 15 to 20 years ago. sorry those words don’t do it justice. and alas it would be nice to have a simpler word than hermeneutics. )
3) Women-role of women in church services and leadership
4) Gays-gays in the church and gay rights
5) Political Activism-the role of church in politics (this one isn’t directly ongoing–it only seems to resurface during election years and occassionally during relevant supreme court decisions)
Interestingly enough these discussions like gays in the church seem to displace larger reflection on personal habits.
1) Humility. Acknowledge partiality.
3) Practice patience.
4) Practice forgiveness.
5) Be slow to judge & quick to listen.
6) In sum practice the fruits of the spirit.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22 – 23)
7) Remember the lessons about Christian unity from Ephesians 4:
17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
8] Focus on the commonality of our faith and beliefs.
I worry sometimes that our methods of conflict resolution resemble academic, legal, and media pundit-like methods of conflict resolution, which don’t actually resolve conflict but instead feed the fire. Hopefully in mind and deed we will be led to use our differences as learning experiences which enhance our community, love, and brotherhood/sisterhood.