Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Conflict Resolution Helps Us Grow

This is meat for men. Don’t read it if you can’t hack it.

How important is conflict resolution for the believer? It is essential, and God takes it very serious. It is necessary for personal growth, health, and proving the authenticity of ones Christianity. Notice I didn’t ask about conflict escalation, but resolution. The willingness and ability to resolve conflict is essential to your maturity.

As much as we dislike it, conflict will happen in the Christian life. I dislike conflict. I hope to never see another day of conflict in my life. But I know I will. God’s will for us is to deal with it Biblically when it happens, and process it in such a way that the situation is resolved in a mature manner.

Unfortunately, the EASY OUT for many Christians (when faced with conflict) is CHURCH TRANSFER. Once there they can safely ESCALATE the matter (to sympathetic ears), or simply AVOID the face-to-face meeting with the other involved person that the Bible calls for. I recognize that sometimes changing churches is necessary – but not as often as it occurs. Relationship conflict is not supposed to be addressed through escape – it only perpetuates the problem and keeps it alive. God would have us to deal with it... not run from it.

The Biblical writers in both the OT and NT were not afraid of conflict; in fact they demonstrated an acute awareness of the tensions that sometimes exist in the body of Christ.

The apostle Paul teaches us that a person can harbor hurt and anger for only a few hours before it becomes a seed for satanic influence:

26Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and give no opportunity to the devil (Ephesians 4:26-27).

Once wounded, if we do not process the pain in a Biblical manner, it becomes internalized. These internal wounds are often fatal to our spiritual walk. Not addressing conflict creates a victim, and a victim’s mentality. This is the most common type of church-transferee: someone who has been offended and chooses to flee rather than face. This escapism demonstrates immaturity and is not without negative consequences.

To use escape as a way of resolving problems is to draw a permanent line in your spirit where your spiritual growth will be stunted. You will travel no further in God, and will gain no higher ground. This line defines the end of your spiritual leash. It is your sticking point, and until you get it resolved with your brother, (or make an attempt at resolving the matter), God will always have a controversy with you (Matt. 5:23-24).

Avoidance of conflict has created a generation of Christians who are addicted to therapeutic ministries too. Healing sells hot. Instead of viewing conflict resolution as a tool for growth, these marsh mellow softies would rather remain emotional cripples and sign up for therapy or change churches where they can find palavering sympathy.

Escapism allows us to call ourselves Christians without testing our resolve. Instead of practicing core Biblical principles such as confrontation, forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, patience, perseverance, and love in the Body of Christ, these runaways simply hop to another church. This creates cheap grace; an easy believism of avoidance and shallow commitment.

Enabled and reinforced by church hopping, these escape artists embrace an effortless, sugar-coated, have-it-your-way kind of faith. This cheap grace fosters a hollow form of Christianity which gives no regard to the Holy Spirit’s regenerating power. It tries to cling to salvation while condemning others, and judges others while it asks to not be judged.

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