Resolving Church Conflicts

Years ago, I came across a very helpful idea regarding marriage, but I think it is equally applicable to church conflicts between different people. Here it is adapted to a conflict in the church:

When two people in a church are upset with each other, usually there is plenty to point to on both sides. But pointing at another hardly solves any problems. To solve problems the two should begin by pointing at themselves. Scripture says the one must take the log out of his own eye before he is able to see clearly enough to remove the splinter from another (Matthew 7:3-5). That is exactly where so many go wrong, like in this husband and wife picture:There’s no communication when two people are squared off against one another. How do they get communication started? Two people communicate when they walk and work unitedly in the same direction, but how do they get moving in the same direction. They start by turning the attack from persons to a problem. When they focus on something outside of themselves, they take away the blame, and thus diffuse the animosity.But how can quarreling individuals begin to expend their energy on solving problems God’s way instead of continuing along the destructive course of tearing each other and their Church apart? That is the question! It’s very hard to agree to looking at the problem when there is so little agreement to begin with. It seems like evading to one or the other.

The answer is: through the right kind of communication. That is the only answer. They must begin by focusing in the same direction even if it’s not on the problem yet. Either one may do this by focusing on himself first.The other’s already focusing on you, so all you have to do is get lined up alongside the person as they focus on you. Then look at your own log first. Then for the first time in a long while the two will be focusing in the same direction. It is truly amazing how much instant agreement you can get from a person who previously may have disagreed with you concerning nearly everything under the sun, when you begin to say, “I have wronged you”. Then specifically and sincerely ask forgiveness. Or if you don’t know what you have done, humbly and without defensiveness say, “How have I wronged you?” And ask open questions to try and understand. That is where reconciliation often must begin. You never ought to begin by taking the lid off the other fellow’s trash can until you have cleaned out the garbage in your own can first. That is where communication begins. *

I have used this in a number of different church conflicts I have been in. Often when I confess to them and sincerely ask for forgiveness, they do the same. And the reconciliation happens. Or after I ask, “Help me to see where I have wronged you?” and I come to understand it from their perspective, they often will ask me the same thing. Then we are not only reconciled, but we are solving the real underlying problems.

* Adapted from Christian Living in the Home by Jay Adams, Presbyterian and Reformed, Nutley, NJ, copyright 1972, p. 33-35

 

 

 

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Praying Through the Armor of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Eph. 6:10-12

This scripture makes it very clear that Satan is evil, scheming and incredibly powerful and we need spiritual armor to stand against him. So here is a way to use the armor of God as a guide for your prayer time. Use it once a day or once a month to examine your life before the Lord so you aren’t susceptible to the enemy’s attacks.Here are the pieces of the armor and some questions to prayerfully ask yourself for each one:

Belt of Truth

What lies from Satan about myself, others, the world around me, or circumstances am I believing? Am I not telling the truth in certain areas about certain things; where I am slanting the truth?

Breastplate of Righteousness

Do I realize how God sees Christ’s righteousness instead of my sin? How is my sense of self-worth right now? What sins do I need to confess? Is there unnecessary guilt on my heart right now?

Shoes Fitted with Readiness

Am I ready to share the gospel at any time with those who should ask? Of people I know whom should I pray for to know the Lord? Who should I go to with the gospel message?

Gospel of Peace

What am I stressed about? What do my thoughts reveal I am worried or fearful about? Am I regretful about things that have happened in the past? Am I anxious about the future to come?

Shield of Faith

What are the arrows of temptation ahead today? Knowing my weak points, where would Satan tend to strike? What natural desires would he start with?

Helmet of Salvation

What doubts about God and his Word attack my mind? What do I doubt God will do for me? What questions of the faith haunt me?

Sword of the Spirit

What promises of God do I need to hold onto for any of the above? What scripture should I be reading and/or studying?

***Remember to pray in His Name (He’s our power of attorney), in the power of His Blood (we can’t be touched because of it), and under the cross (he’s triumphant there for us).