Christians in conflict are a burden to each other and a block to lost people coming to Christ.
What's worse, it gets swept under the rug more often than it gets dealt with. Shame. I mean, I know why...we'd rather have our pride than victory in Jesus.
(sculpture at Duke University)
You treat someone like a believer if that's their testimony until they absolutely prove they are not one. Sometimes, people are really immature, not lost. Sometimes, people are struggling, but not lost. Either way, let's treat each other according to our testimonies -- like I said -- until it's absolutely clear we cannot. Perhaps refusal to attempt reconciliation is a sign. Maybe?
Okay, so conflict happens. Let's not pretend it doesn't. We are sinners. We are imperfect. Sure, we're perfectly forgiven, but we are not perfect people. That day will come for us, but it ain't today. Conflict happens.
For example, something caused conflict between two women among the believers in Philippi: I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. (Philippians 4:2 ESV)
It doesn't tell us what the conflict was about. We do know both of these women had served with Paul in gospel ministry (Philippians 4:3). And, apparently the church at Philippi was fairly healthy. So, here we are, in a healthy church with people pursuing the gospel and there's conflict. Imagine how much more often conflict happens in unhealthy churches.
I think the same can be said of Christian relationships. Where the gospel is the focus -- both in living it out and sharing it -- there is less conflict. The gospel is God-oriented when so many other things are self-oriented. I almost digress (one cannot digress when one is talking about the gospel!).
Conflict happens. I am appalled at the number of believers who get divorced. Very few even try to reconcile. It's a shame, really.
I am amazed at the arguments by believers in social media. Very few ever reconcile.
It's a disgrace how many believers argue about sports. Very few ever see that sports absolutely do not matter at any level, and very few ever reconcile their differences (that little annoyance lies hard between "serious" fans).
Have you ever juxtaposed the amazing truth we preach with the pitiful way we live? Consider this one point: we tell people we really believe God is going to resurrect our decayed bodies from the grave, BUT we don't believe a relationship can be mended. Hmmmmm....
What may be the biggest shame is how all these broken relationships ruins our witness as the church. Jesus said that our unity would cause the world to believe He came from God. Consider this:
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me." (John 17:20-23 ESV, emphasis mine)
Earlier in John, Jesus said, "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ESV) Love covers a multitude of sins! God is love! Between faith, hope and love, the greatest is love!
Where's the love? Where's the humility? Where's the faith that believes God can work miracles?
I've been studying 1 Corinthians lately. It's full of conflict! That's the entire reason the letter was written to the church at Corinth. I'll blog on that, too.
What conflict is there in your life that you refuse to reconcile? Who is that person that you absolutely will not humble yourself with? Look, don't ruin your witness!
I know, you might be saying, "I've tried! I've tried! They won't reconcile." Okay, I've seen that. When we've done all we can, there is usually something left we're unwilling to try. There's usually pride or failure to act in accordance with Scripture somewhere (such as fasting and praying -- you know, for more than a lunch). I know this much; when we've honestly pursued every course possible, our hearts rest.