Two men who lived in a small village got into such a terrible dispute that they could not find a resolution. So they decided to talk to the town sage. The first man went to the sage’s home and told his version of what happened. When he finished, the sage said, “You’re absolutely right.” The next night, the second man called on the sage and told his side of the story. The sage responded, “You’re absolutely right.” Afterward, the sage’s wife scolded her husband. She said, “Those men told you two different stories and you told them they were absolutely right. That’s impossible - they can't both be absolutely right.” The sage turned to his wife and said, “You’re absolutely right.”
Sometimes it’s easiest to avoid conflict in order to keep the peace. But at times conflict is simply unavoidable. The reality is that conflict is a part of life. As Christians, we’re called to be the good, even in times of conflict, to follow the example the Prince of Peace set for us. In Matthew 5:9, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.” As children of God, we must seek to glorify God even in conflict! Reflecting Jesus in times of conflict gives us the opportunity to bring glory to God and be the good in a tough situation.
Our human nature leads us to react to conflict in different ways. We sometimes escape, with our tendency being to leave, quit, or doubt that anything is wrong. We sometimes attack, with our tendency being to lash out, intimidate, or gossip.
Recognizing our tendencies when faced with conflict and reminding ourselves that as Christians we must put God’s will above our own is a great start to making sure we make peace in times of conflict. Certainly, Jesus was faced with one conflict after another throughout His earthly ministry. It's important to note that conflict is simply a difference of wills. In the first century, the religious leaders of the Jewish people strongly opposed Jesus and His disciples. This was due in large part to the teaching of Jesus and the perceived threat He posed to their power and authority. Jesus' focus was to do the will of God. The focus of the religious leaders was to advance their own standing and power. This difference in wills precipitated the great amount of conflict Jesus face during His ministry.
Jesus left us a great example of how to be peacemakers and glorify God. There are many lessons we can learn from His example, and we must seek to be peacemakers if we wish to be called children of God. To be peacemakers and give glory to God we must:
STOP PLAYING THE BLAME GAME
We must remind ourselves of our own shortcomings. The apostle Paul wrote, "For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:22-23). It is important that we remember no one is perfect…not even us. So let's stop playing the blame game and take responsibility for our own actions.
Justifying our actions should always be a red flag! It seems that we want to convince ourselves that our words or actions are right, regardless of the circumstance. So, when faced with conflict, we react and tend to justify our reaction, whether it was appropriate or not. We must stop justifying and start reflecting on how we respond to conflict, seeking to learn from each challenge we face. The goal should always be to have a Christ-like spirit.
KEEP A CHECK ON OUR WORDS & ACTIONS
Our speech, the things we post on social media and our actions should give glory to God. Honestly, we often say and do things as a quick reaction. Sadly, our quick responses are not usually the best. The words we say, the things we post on social media, are so important. We cannot allow ourselves to believe our words, posts, and actions are without impact. We must keep a check on our words and actions.
SEEK OUT PEACE
We must be proactive. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:18, “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Interestingly enough, these words were written to a group of people who were in the throes of great conflict. They desperately needed to hear this word from Paul. This imperative to be proactive in making peace was accompanied with many other imperatives concerning how we interact with others. We must be proactive as we seek out peace.
REMEMBER THE GOSPEL
The Gospel, which means "good news," is the key to peace for us as Christians. God sent his son to reconcile us to Himself. The forgiveness and hope that are found in Christ motivate us to devote our lives in service to God and others. In response to all that God has done for us, we seek to glorify Him with our words and actions. As Christians we must always remember the Gospel and the significance of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection for our lives. Because of the Gospel, we now have peace with God. The apostle Paul wrote, "...since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). Because of Christ, we are no longer at war with God. Because of Christ's sacrifice, we have peace with God.
As Christians, we must seek to be the good in challenging times, in times of conflict. So, let’s be the good and be peacemakers!