Conflict as Opportunity
Conflict: An Opportunity to bring glory to God.
Philippians 2:5 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
WE DISLIKE CONFLICT Conflict is not what we want or enjoy.
We wish the Fall in the Garden we heard about this morning never happened. We are so disappointed with the church and ourselves when disagreement and conflict happens among us, the holy and loved people of God, who, as we also heard this morning, have been loved by the One who gave up all his own power and rights to reconcile us to our Creator and each other – even in the cross.
BUT IT HAPPENS But conflict does happen – even in the holy communion of holy people.
WE DON’T LIKE IT We dislike conflict. It makes us uncomfortable. It can shatter our confidence. It can really hurt. We usually run away from it. On the other hand, if pushed enough, we can go on the attack. Fight r flight are unhelpful responses we need to get beyond to live out the gospel we proclaim.
ANOTHER WAY – THE MIND OF CHRIST The bottom line is that in Jesus, the Servant King, there is another way to approach conflict. There is a helpful and fruitful way of coping with difficulties in relationships.
As Paul proclaims in our home text of Phil 2, we need the mind of Christ on conflict in our relationships so that conflict actually is approached not with fear, guilt and anger but with humility, a desire to use it as an opportunity for new possibilities and above all, to bring all the glory for good change and new life to God.
We must acknowledge though that we are not Christ and the person with whom we are having conflict is not either. The person with whom we are having disagreement might be quite unwilling to enter into any resolution leading to reconciliation. The New Testament knows people and knows this problem well. Paul says this about peacemaking;
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
We are called to work for peace in our relationships “if possible” and “as much as it depends on us”, even if the person with whom we are experiencing conflict does not respond in kind. I hear God saying that we do what we are called to do to the best of our ability and with the Lord’s constant help. If reconciliation cannot be found at this time, we have not failed. We live in a clear conscience because we have owned the problem, done what was possible at the time and done our best.
WHAT IS CONFLICT? Having acknowledged this, let’s go deeper and ask, “What is conflict? Conflict can be defined simply as; “a difference of opinion or purpose that frustrates someone’s goals or desires. Conflict varies in intensity and dimension”.
A conflict can be as insignificant as a simple disagreement about something quite trivial, like a football game! Conflict can be much more serious and longer lasting, like divorce or being sacked or litigation and etc…
WHAT CAUSES CONFLICT? Generally three things… 1. Simple misunderstanding can create confusion that may grow into significant mistrust and disagreement. 2. Differences in people’s values, goals at work or family life or in their sense of achievement can lead to real friction. 3. Competition over limited resources has the ability to increase tension between people struggling to get their fair share of the pie.
HOW SHALL WE DEAL WITH CONFLICT? We tend to either take flight when conflict presents itself or attack – like the ladies in the car park! Their way was not helpful! Neither is constantly avoiding differences of opinion or denying anything has hurt us.
But there is a better way to approach and deal with difference and conflict. We will discover more of this in the weeks ahead and on Tuesday mornings and evening together.
God provides the best way to address conflict that comes from how he has dealt with conflict with us. In our home text he shows us that instead of keeping his distance from our idolatry and harmful behaviour and words, he enters into these from below us – from the position of service and losing rights. This is the starting point for us. And like his goal, which was to bring glory to his Father and healing and freedom to us by his serving, so is ours.
We can summarise the Christian approach to conflict… These basic ways to approach all conflict with the mind of Christ are called the 4 G’s – just like the Telstra phone network! 1. Glorify God – how can I bring glory to the God and bear witness to what Jesus Christ does for me in this situation? 2. Get the Log out of your eye – How have I contributed to this conflict an what do I need to do now to resolve it? 3. Gently Restore – How can I help others to understand how they have contributed to this conflict so that we can be restores to each other? 4. Go and be Reconciled – How can I demonstrate forgiveness and encourage a reasonable solution to this conflict?
One ‘G’ All of the 4 G’s come from the One G – the GOSPEL. We respond to the peace that God won for us and gave to us in our baptism. Now we are called to be peacemakers in as much as it depends on me because we live in the grace and the servant power of The Peacemaker, Jesus Christ.
LOOK BEYOND For the next 6 weeks the Lord calls us to look beyond our own fears of conflict and see and hear his way of living fruitfully through conflict.
In the name of Christ. Amen.
Have a look again at Philippians 2:1-13 noting “the mind of Christ” by picking out the words that describe his attitude. Then apply those to this whole area in life of peacemaking in relationships. If someone was to ask you what the mind of Christ was on dealing with difficulties in relationships, what would you tell them? Share your thoughts…
What do you think about the listed “causes of conflict” in the sermon? Think about conflicts you have experienced or are currently experiencing. How do these fit into this list?
We are saying that each of us as disciples of Christ are called to be ambassadors of His reconciliation in our personal relationships. Read the following texts and see the biblical foundation of this calling. Ephesians 2:10 Ephesians 4:22-24 Romans 12:1-2 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Have a look at the sermon with the “Four G’s” and share your responses to the question each of the four G’s ask. We will find Jesus’ responses to these questions both in Philippians 2 and in the abovementioned foundational texts…..So, consult them as you share your thoughts on each question….
Glorify God – how can I bring glory to the God and bear witness to what Jesus Christ does for me in this situation? What opportunity is the Lord presenting me with? Get the Log out of your eye – How have I contributed to this conflict an what do I need to do now to resolve it? What is the Lord teaching me about myself and following him in my life? Gently Restore – How can I help others to understand how they have contributed to this conflict so that we can be restores to each other? In what way can avoid blaming and instead discover something that leads to peace. Go and be Reconciled – How can I demonstrate forgiveness and encourage a reasonable solution to this conflict? What can I actually do about this now?
PRAY Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins, and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
Lord, we praise your name for reconciling us to yourself through the Word of Christ we hear and the gifts of Christ we receive weekly. Renew us, satisfy the desires of our hearts so that we be your ambassadors of the peace of Jesus in people’s lives. Amen.