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Mike is the general manager of Q90 FM and co-host of Stand Up For The Truth. His new book, "Are You Really Saved?" Understanding Sin, Grace, Salvation, and Sanctification, published in 2014.

Conflict in Christianity: When and How?

Conflict.  The very word often stirs up negative emotions in us as humans.  Our comfortable little world where we just get along in total harmony with those around us is suddenly pulled out from under us.  A great day at the office or home suddenly becomes a day full of fear, pain or anger as conflict interrupts our perfectly self-designed plans.

The Pharisees and the Saduccees Come to Tempt ...

But should we fear conflict?  Should we avoid conflict at all costs?  There are some conflicts we should avoid if at all possible.  If you are driving your car and suddenly someone cuts you off, it is best to avoid retaliation and conflict.  Tempers and egos may flare, accelerating an emotional situation out of control and jeopardizing safety and even lives.  Also, it is probably a good idea to avoid conflict and argument when a gun is pointed in your direction.  In most cases, discretion is surely the better part of valor in those instances.

But what about conflict between husbands and wives or between Christians?  Should we avoid conflict at all costs in those instances at the risk of a short term peace that might fester and cause serious damage in the future?  Or should we embrace conflict in hopes of resolving the issue?

Jesus was often in conflict with certain Pharisees.  He was also in conflict with His disciples, who often never quite understood what he was teaching and even why He came to earth.  He always had not only the perfect answer, but being God knew the perfect way to deliver his message of love and truth.  Unfortunately we as humans lack His wisdom as the Son of God.  So we must move forward as best we can in embracing conflict and seeking a resolution that honors God and those we are in conflict with.

First, decide if the conflict is a matter of high importance.  From a scriptural point, I am always fascinated when Christians get in a heated argument over the timing of the rapture.  Christians have too often broken fellowship over opinions on the timing—is this issue really worth breaking fellowship over?

If, after prayer and reflection, it is decided the conflict is worthy of strong discussion, we must determine if our motive is sharing truth—or proving we are right.  Is the discussion one where both parties are open to gaining knowledge, understanding and wisdom?  Or are we simply out to prove how smart and right we are?  These conflicts usually never end well.

Third, humility must always be present.  We must communicate with grace, realizing that communication is more art than science.  If you disagree with something you hear from the pulpit, first go to your pastor with an open mind and heart.  Tell him what you heard him say and give him the opportunity to explain what he meant to say—it may differ from what you think you heard.  Go in with an attitude seeking clarification, not justification.

Lastly, is your motivation in the conflict one where both parties can benefit from the discussion and one where God is glorified?  Are you open to an exchange of ideas and interpretations that will build each other up?  Or is your goal to prove your “superiority” in spiritual or practical matters?

As “Watchmen on the Wall”, we are saddened, and sometimes angered, when we think we hear the Word of God twisted, minimized or changed.  This certainly can be a righteous anger.  However before we open up in full blown conflict with another believer, let’s make sure we understand exactly what is being said.  It could indeed be an instance of false teaching or deception—but it could also be simple miscommunication.  Let us be very careful and slow to wield the charge “heretic”.

And if conflict is warranted, let us not shy away from it.  Rather let us pursue it with wisdom, humility and grace—along with a willingness to learn.  Every conflict is an opportunity to be better understood and to bring clarity.  How we approach conflict says a lot about our spiritual maturity.  Let us not only love well—but let us fight well, when necessary.



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One Response to “Conflict in Christianity: When and How?”

  1. Mr Davis #

    Mike well said. Philippians 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. This makes it clear we are not the ones changing anybody's mind.

    Scripture makes it also clear if we think to correct anything, we don't give them our opinion or our feelings on something we use God's word. Here we cannot pick and choose. If we think to obey in one area, yet disobey in another we make ourselves out to be God. Sadly we have done that and why Christ's name is blasphemed even to this day.

    2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

    Scripture is clear we are all about justifying our own sins and when we do so we give the Devil a foothold because we set aside some of God's protection in the process. Not only is this self imposed righteousness, itself sin, in that it denies Christ, the Righteousness of God revealed from Heaven, it causes seperation between us and God because it is sin. Until there is repentance we may as well be praying to a stone.

    Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear .

    Proverbs 15:8 KJV
    The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

    Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

    Pride is self righteousness and the most insidious of all sins and it is an abomination

    Proverbs 16:5 KJV
    Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

    If we take this to heart can can we ever act from a position of strength, do we not see how wretched we are, our position it is always founded in weakness. In our weakness the power of Christ is manifest in us.

    Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

    I can't remember the author of this quote but it is fitting: How can you be angry with others when you cannot make yourself as you aught to be.

    October 5, 2012 at 2:58 AM