Can we work it out?
Whether it is the on-going Brexit controversy dogging the UK Parliament, or ongoing reports and accompanying photos ‘revealing’ the Royal Princes’ falling out with each other, political conflicts and relational woes fill our news feeds and social media pages daily.
Does the Bible or even Jesus really have anything practical to help us respond to these very real 21st century problems?
There is hope in the Bible and in Jesus
Actually – YES! Within the Bible, and the life and teachings of Jesus and his apostles, a four part framework to responding to our conflicts (no matter how big or small) can in fact be found.
Not a complicated or conceptually hard framework. But rather, one that invites us to persevere, being humble and courageous in the face of conflict. And which we are inspired to pursue because Jesus died for us!
Let’s check it out.
A simple framework to respond to conflict well
The simple framework for responding to a conflict well, rather than destructively, goes like this.
When faced with conflict:
- I choose to look at things from God’s perspective and ask what response from me would best please and honour him? (God);
- I genuinely self-reflect and take personal responsibility for my contribution to the conflict. I repent, confess and apologe to the other person and seek their forgiveness (Me);
- With a heart of love, care and kindness, I speak gently with the other person about their contribution to the conflict and how this has impacted me (You); and finally,
- I carefully consider what I need to do to truly forgive the other person. And along with forgiving them, I initiate a discussion about both our unique and shared concerns regarding any material issues, with the aim of working out a mutually beneficial solution (Us).
A more detailed framework, including detailed biblical references for each part, can be found here.
Depending on what happens in the third step (You), the fourth step (Us) may mean that others are involved or healthy boundaries are established. But the hope and aim of the fourth step is always to reconcile and bring people closer together and not make a damaged relationship worse.
Where our motivation to pursue peace comes from
We are motivated to pursue relational repair or reconciliation with those who we have hurt and who have hurt us because of what God has done for us through Jesus.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:9-11)
The Bible not only shows us how (and why) we can reconcile our relationships, but also gives us a strategy to deal with the tangible problems we have to solve. Rather than just seeing things from our perspective, he calls us to get out from the bunker and aim to truly see the other side. And to care deeply about what is important to them too so that we can have a peaceful negotiation about it…
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
Still relevant, and still calling us to action
The Bible, and Jesus’ great act of redemptive love on the cross, remain “red-hot” relevant for today – for the Harry’s, and William’s of the world, and for all the rest of us as well.
They not only show us how we can reconcile our relationships and resolve our problems in the 21st century, but give us a reason to do it. This is because God himself has given his very own son Jesus to reconcile us to himself. And wants us to follow this example to be reconcilers too, pursuing reconciliation with others, and pointing people to be reconciled to God as well.
Do you have unreconciled relationships or unresolved problems in your life? If so, why not spend some time reading God’s Word to remind yourself about God’s amazing reconciling work through Jesus, and be encouraged and empowered to reconcile the damaged relationships and resolve the problems you currently have?
What first step could you take today to make this happen?
For a wonderful explanation of the how and why of biblical peacemaking, we suggest you read The Peacemaker by Ken Sande, available here.
Article written by Li Ai Gamble
Li Ai is one of the foundation PeaceWise Board members. She is also PeaceWise’s Training and Conciliation Manager and WA Ministry Coordinator.