You see the two people walking in the lower right-hand corner of this beautiful photo of the San Diego coast? They are a picture of how Jesus tells us how to approach conflict and confrontation.
Let's look at a couple of key passages on the subject. The first is found in Matthew 18:15-17--
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."
Jesus gives us keys here for dealing with it when we feel we've been wronged. Elsewhere, Jesus tells us how to deal with it when we've wronged someone else. Jesus says it like this in Matthew 5:23-24--
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."
In both these passages, Jesus gives us some basic keys to settling conflict or confronting someone else.
- Deal with it immediately. This is to say, don't let it fester. Don't spend time hoping it will just get better. Deal with it as soon as possible.
- Address it personally. The Christian does not approach conflict or confrontation anonymously. Instead, we deal with these kinds of issues in person--face to face. In our present age of technology, Christians might think a text or an email is a good way to resolve disputes, but where it is possible, go to the offending person or the person you've offended.
- Approach the other person privately. Don't talk to others about the issue until you can address it with that person one on one.
Immediate, personal, and private--those are the principles to addressing conflict and confrontation from the New Testament and right from the teaching of Jesus. Taking these approaches will require discipline and some courage, but in the end, you'll have stronger relationship and a stronger character if you'll do this with consistency!
Labels: character, Christianity, church growth, Church life, conflict, confrontation, discipleship, forgiveness, Jesus Christ, New Testament