Wednesday, 20 March 2013

A Gospel-centered Approach to Conflict - Part I

Do you find that there are certain passages in Scripture that you would prefer aren’t there?  You know like Matthew 6:15 which says, “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  So, if you are like me you either search for a different translation or tell yourself that in the original Greek it must mean something else.

I’m talking about the “C” word, you know conviction.  Lately I’ve been feeling like the Holy Spirit has taken me on as a special project.  So it was yesterday as I was sitting through a staff meeting minding my own business.  One of our leaders was tasked with the job of covering the subject of conflict using The Gospel-Centered Life materials.  Now I have written on conflict several times and I even have the draft of my book on the topic sitting on my desk.  Since the book is only four pages long including the Table of Contents and Index I am holding off publishing it.  You’re probably thinking, "get to the point already."

The point is after a 45 minute lesson on conflict I felt as though I had been run over by a steam roller.  I was reasonably able to ignore much of the beginning of the presentation since as a general rule I avoid conflict like it was a plague unless of course I am counseling in which case I “might” come across as self-righteous, antagonistic or argumentative.  Wouldn’t you like to have me counsel you?

Then the dreaded chart nailed me.  It compared the two most typical responses to conflict with a gospel response.  See below:

Heart Foundation
Repentance, forgiveness
Power Source
Flesh, pride
Flesh, fear
The Holy  Spirit
To be right
To avoid conflict
To understand and engage
To argue or subdue
To deny or appease
To convey and invite
Life is safe
Life is less painful
Life is challenging
God’s glory, their good
Hurt, divisiveness
Bitterness, separation
Healing, reconciliation

 I wouldn’t have been surprised to find that I fell into the withdraw column.  What bothered me is that I think I fall into the worst parts of column two and three and perhaps attempt to conceal my response as coming from column four.  Specifically I know there are times when I sound self-righteous even to myself and I know that my pride and ego make occasional appearances.  But I’m as likely to seek a less painful life by failing to speak the truth in love and seeking peace.  Enough true confessions, the next installments cover how we can learn to handle conflict in a gospel-centered way.



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