Dwight Fletcher | How ‘Wi Love Strong’ during conflict - II
This week in our Wi Love Strong series we continue to discuss how to handle interpersonal conflicts. Last week we saw that a conflict is natural and is a disagreement real or perceived, which can cause resentment or discontent. We considered that we must walk in love while dealing with interpersonal issues or conflict and that how we do this is important.
But, what makes or breaks relationships, and churches in conflict? And, how do we walk in love while dealing with these issues?
This involves three things:
1. I must admit that there is an issue or conflict
Sometimes in church persons have a tendency to pretend that a problem does not exist, while deep in their hearts they are hurting. But who are you fooling when you pretend? Surely not God. He knows what you are doing and He still requires you to handle it biblically. The truth is that once the issue is there and nothing is done about it, it eats not only you, but it eats at the relationship and unity and harmony in the community and blocks the free flow of love, camaraderie and family.
2. I must have the right attitude.
Jesus said: "The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child." Matthew 18:4NLT.
I must approach conflicts with humility.
To humble means to bring low. When we are dealing with conflict with another person, the goal should be reconciliation, not justification. We must ask the Lord to search our hearts before we ever deal with a conflict. In other words, our hope is to mend the relationship, not to choose sides and declare a winner. If only one person wins, everybody loses.
3. I must have the right approach.
Jesus gives us a very simple four-step plan on how to handle these issues. We make things so complicated, but Jesus makes it simple!
Step 1: A private conversation.
When someone comes to you with a problem about another person, here is what you need to ask him or her. "Have you addressed this with that person?" If not, encourage them to do so. That is where Jesus said to start. Here are some points for when we need to have a private conversation.
Meet face to face.
Affirm the relationship.
Make observations, not accusations.
Get the facts.
Step 2: Take Witnesses.
These witnesses are there for the same reason - to bring reconciliation. It is not to gang up on the person! In fact, we should involve others only when going alone did not bring healing. What are we talking about? A mediator, a neutral person or someone who can help keep emotions in check and help clarify the issues.
Step 3: Take it to the Church.
In this case the pastor is the first place to bring it as a move to the church. The purpose is still to win your brother over. The Church has established lines of authority that will take responsibility for correcting your brother. Once this step is done, your responsibility is finished and, if your heart is right, you will have already forgiven your brother if you needed to do so.
Step 4: Treat him as you would a pagan or tax collector.
The purpose is still to win them over, and it is done by making the point that their refusal to listen is not acceptable as a brother. The Church has been given authority to make that call. That authority is most effective if it is accepted by the rest of the Church.
When we deal with conflict appropriately, we see positive results in our lives and in our church. This ends with this popular verse "18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."
The scripture shows that we receive God's blessing where there is agreement; we receive answers to prayer and best of all, is that we receive His presence.
Conflict will come, even in the church. But what are you and I going to do when it comes? A healthy and life-giving community is one that practices healthy conflict resolution in order to keep relationships safe and whole. This is what we want for our community because Wi Love Strong - a church that does a good job at helping individuals reconcile their differences in loving ways, and which de-escalates and restores. When we do this we will all have a church community with a common unity.