Resolving Conflict, Part 1: The Best Place to Start

No one is a stranger to conflict.  It is a universal human experience.

Conflicts in personal relationships can be complicated, consuming, confusing, and sometimes catastrophic.  Addressing conflict in our lives is necessary; resolving conflict biblically is absolutely necessary.  When we learn to resolve conflict according to the wisdom of God, we yield beneficial results.  But, even more importantly, when we deal with conflict God’s way, we reflect the glory of His Gospel.

You see, the greatest conflict of all history is our conflict with God.  Likewise, the greatest reconciliation of all history is our reconciliation to God:

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6-11)

Our Problem

In this passage of Scripture, we are described as weak, ungodly, sinners, and enemies of God.  We were completely helpless, undesirable, and incapable of restoring our relationship with Him.  In our dead spiritual condition, our hearts were set toward sin and against God, and we faced condemnation for our opposition. Our condition separated us from the Father, and we could not be reconciled to Him by our own initiative.  Apart from Him intervening, we had no desire or ability to do so.

God’s Solution

Christ died.  Christ died for the ungodly.  Christ died for us . . . not because we were lovable or deserving of rescue, but because He has an infinite love for us that defies human wisdom:  God incarnate willingly and sacrificially laid down His sinless, perfect life for His enemies.  Christ stood in our place and bore the wrath we deserved for our sin.  He who knew no sin became sin for us.  The Innocent One died for the unjust.

The Result

The result of God’s solution is truly amazing:  We have been justified, we were reconciled to God, and we are saved by his life.  The power of our sin and guilt was obliterated by Christ’s death.  Though once alienated from our holy Creator, we are now in a loving relationship with Him because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross in our place.  His payment was accepted, our sin was covered, and we were reconciled to God.  In addition, the power of Christ’s life keeps us in a restored relationship with Him for eternity.  Because of Christ, God declares us righteous, we are at peace with God, and eternal life is ours.

As we look at biblical conflict resolution in the next few posts, I pray they will not be received as a re-packaged self-help guide (decorated with Scripture) to merely “fix” our relationships or to make them “easier.”  Instead, my goal is that we understand the biblical principles for conflict resolution to be anchored in the Gospel, and that we then apply them to our lives as an outflow of having personally experienced the reconciling love of the Savior:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (I John 4:7-11)

At the cross of Jesus we are reconciled with God.  Are we guilty?  No more.  Condemned?  No more.  Enemies?  No more.  In this restored relationship we receive the grace and wisdom to mend fragile and broken relationships with others.  Our vertical Relationship informs all that are horizontal.  So, as we begin the journey of resolving conflict God’s way, will you first join me in faith at the cross?  It is the best place to start.

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