Richard Guy writes:
Too often we carry the misconception that engaging in loving Christian community means there will never be conflict.
Unfortunately, wherever you gather ‘imperfect people’ together, conflict will inevitably arise. Avoiding conflict will not solve the problem and will ultimately prevent personal and spiritual growth.
Conflict is a natural stage of drawing closer together in relationship and, when negotiated successfully, it will foster deeper relationships and develop greater maturity.
In 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 Paul writes, ‘All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.’
Reconciliation is about ‘removing the breach’ preventing restoration of relationship. It parallels how God restores us to himself and begins with the common ground that we all have sinned against God.
Reconciliation is at the heart of the gospel
As Christians we must learn to be forgiving. No matter how significant the offence committed against us or how many times we have been offended, we must practise forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-22).
Christian writer Francis Frangipane says: ‘…wounding is inevitable if we are following Christ. Jesus was both “marred” (Isaiah 52:14) and “wounded” (Zechariah 13:6), and if we are sincere in our pursuit of his nature, we will suffer as well. How else will love be perfected? Let us beware.
‘We either become Christlike and forgive, or we enter a spiritual time warp where we abide continually in the memory of our wounding. Like a systemic disease, the hurtful memories destroy every aspect of our reality. In truth, apart from God, the wounding that life inflicts is incurable. God has decreed that only Christ in us can survive.”‘
Some steps that can help the journey of reconciliation:
- Offended someone? Seek their forgiveness
- Has someone offended you? Forgive them
- Be accountable for your own wrong behaviour or wrong reactions
- Reconcile the relationship by no longer holding the sin against the other person, rebuilding trust and proper restoration
- Recognise that reconciliation is a process.
Remember that the terrible offence of the cross became the place of reconciliation of the world!
Richard Guy, Apostolic Church Australia National Leadership Team member, pastors Velocity Church, Hobart, Tasmania. Link: www.velocity.org.au