Living at peace can be hard.
Add other people to your life, and it gets really tough!
As I mentioned last Sunday in church, conflict is everywhere! We usually don’t have to go looking for conflict…it finds us fairly easily.
There are many ways it gets started…someone says something you take offense to, someone takes credit for your work, someone accuses you wrongly…the situations are almost innumerable.
The real question is, What do you DO about it?
As I mentioned briefly Sunday, there are 3 types of people in this world (even within most churches): Peace-TAKERS, Peace-FAKERS, and Peace-MAKERS. Let me target, specifically, Christians who fill these roles.
Peace-TAKERS are those who try to stir up controversy and division. These are gossips, and those who get into debates about everything from politics to the music in the church to the ways the church is spending money to the Pastors’ outfit. They may have heard something about a church member that is potentially serious, but rather than go to that brother/sister, they tell others about it…’for prayer’.
Peace-FAKERS are those who try to Pretend that everything’s fine. They want to keep up a veneer of peace, so they minimize every conflict, almost to a comical extreme. People like this simply refuse to admit when there are interpersonal problems, because ‘Christians shouldn’t have problems’ like this. These people invest a huge amount of emotional energy in keeping the appearance of peace, but can never really relax and enjoy their relationships, because their relationships don’t grow beyond the superficial.
Peace-MAKERS are those who see both of the above, and have a desire to work through it. They may see elements of the above within themselves–but they know it’s not right, and want to change. More than anything, they know that the Lord wants His children to ‘seek peace and pursue it’ (Psalm 34:14), and they want to heed Jesus’ words: “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9).
But the question remains, What Should We Do in order to make peace?
I think a few quick guidelines are helpful:
1. Commit to communicate.
So often, there is conflict because of misunderstanding of words/intent. If you think things are strained, TALK about it (not via text or email). Matthew 18:15: “If your brother or sister sins, against you, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”
2. Keep short accounts.
Everybody messes up. Everybody hurts feelings from time to time. Forgive and move on. Don’t keep bringing past wrongs back up…that’s not forgiveness! Proverbs 19:11: “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
3. Assume the best.
1 Corinthians 13:7 “Love always trusts” (or “Love Believes the Best”). Assume that your Christian brother/sister is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and therefore wants peace and healing, just like you do. Don’t believe the gossip–if they’re willing to gossip about the ‘other’, they’re probably willing to gossip about you. Give the benefit of the doubt.
4. Be Gracious.
You did not deserve God’s grace or forgiveness, yet He gave it because of His love and character. Extend that grace to others–even if they don’t ‘deserve’ it. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
5. Do what you can do.
Ultimately, even if you’ve tried those things, you may not be able to reach a ‘peaceful’ solution. The other person might not cooperate! Simply make sure that–for your part–you’re doing everything you can to help. Romans 12:17-18: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
If you and I do all these things, there is a very good possibility that you and I will experience Peace, and we will become Peacemakers…and our world NEEDS many more of those!
Want to hear the message from last Sunday? Go here: