In the nine years of Grace Fellowship Church, we have enjoyed real and genuine peace between brothers and sisters. Conflicts and divisions have not been an issue for us, by the grace of God.
That being said, I’m sure that day will come. Like suffering, conflict is one of those areas of life where Christians need to be taught ahead of time so that when the hardships come, we’ve already got truth instilled in our hearts that we are ready to apply.
This past Wednesday night, I was able to address the men about how to respond when we are offended by other Christians. I suggested that Christian men typically think of two things when there is conflict. Either (1) we go to Matthew 18 and feel the need to ‘fix it’ right away, or, (2) we go to 1 Pet 4.8 and think that by ignoring offence we’re exercising a love that covers a multitude of sins.
In reality, however, I think that the Scriptures call us to a balanced approach when we are sinned against. Before determining how to approach a brother about the speck in his eye that has offended us so much, we need to be sure to deal with the log in our own eye first.
Dealing with our hearts means looking to and applying truths from the cross. That’s what I’ve attempted to help us learn how to do with the handout that I gave. There’s an extract below, along with a link to the full article.
There is a profound sense in which the saddest of all evils are those which are committed by Christians against Christians.
When enemies arose against David, he could rejoice in the justice of God. He knew that whatever enemies came against him, no matter what they did, they would have their evil returned upon their heads. They would pay for their crimes. He could delight that since he was the leader of God’s people, if someone arose against him, they had really arisen against God. David’s cause was just; the cause of his enemies was not. There was a black and white, a good and a bad, a right and a wrong.
When Christians sin against Christians, how can we find comfort? In just about every Christian-Christian conflict, there is no clear right and wrong. It is rare that one party is 100% right and the other absolutely wrong. Who can claim perfectly pure mo-tives when the Spirit of the Lord searches hearts? Where, then, is justice that vindicates the innocent and condemns the guilty?
More than that, when a brother or a sister sins against me, even the justice of God becomes sad. Every sin will be paid for. If it is an unbeliever who unjustly attacks, we know they will be called to give an account for their actions. If, however, it is a Christian who sins against me, how can I rejoice in that justice? Now the sin which they have committed not only hurts me, not only grieves the Spirit as sin against grace, but even (in some sense) adds to the wounds of my beloved Saviour. It is sad.
Where, then, is comfort to be found?
I know that there is comfort nowhere if not in the cross, so my hope must somehow be fixed there. But how can I genuinely find comfort in knowing that I’ve been sinned against, hurt, alienated, distanced from those I love, and that Christ is the one who must suffer as a result?
I suppose there is comfort here in several ways. I’ve thought of 1o, but I know there are more. Any to add to the list?
- I must remember that my debt is paid.
- I must know that this, like the cross, pleases God.
- I must look to get insight into the Father’s heart.
- I must remember that Jesus identifies.
- I must remember that I’m not Jesus.
- I must remember that this is better than I deserve.
- I must remember that my identity is not tied up in what others think of me or how others treat me.
- I must look to the cross to learn patience.
- I must remember that God is more just than me.
- I must use this so that I might serve.
For the Christian, the cross is a place of forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. It is the place where we are justified and made right with God. But that right standing with God is the foundation of so much more.
For the Christian, the cross must become a place of refuge in any and every situation in life. We must learn to be intentional to interpret all of life through the cross. Life-changing truth and reality are displayed at the cross as nowhere else. The cross is the most ultimately-applicable reality ever, in all of human history. Are you being faithful to remember it in your circumstances? Are you being changed by it?