Equipping the saints for the work of the ministry - Ephesians 4:12

Christian Conflict Resolution

Christian unity doesn’t mean identical thinking. It’s allowing each individual member to work according to God’s plan while coming together to function as an entire body. Conflict arises when we disagree with a matter that usually doesn’t conform to our way of thinking.

When left unresolved, or dealt with in any manner other than forgiveness, bitterness creeps in spreading its poison like a cancer. But, Jesus is the threefold cord that holds us together in the bond of unity, which is not easily broken. He is intertwined with love and forgiveness. We are not to be someone’s doormat, nor are we expected to agree on every matter, but one thing is sure – Jesus is the key to unresolved conflict.

There are two different reasons why someone might avoid conflict. Christians tend to lean towards the explanation that those who avoid confronting those who they disagree with are afraid of finding themselves wrong, which may be a true statement. However, I believe there are those who are trapped in situations where their accuser is one who controls them and instills fear causing them to withdraw in order to avoid any additional confrontation.

Although this is not healthy, and allows the one being accused to be a doormat, it also gives the accuser a foothold to instill fear and control the individual. None of which is healthy. Whether we are prideful and refuse to see ourselves wrong, or are really victim to another’s controlling ways, we must learn how to break free from the lies the enemy has placed before us.

Matthew 18:15-17 clearly states how to deal with issues that rise up in the body of Christ. I do not believe all fear is a result of pride, which I have heard some say. Some people are trapped into thinking that as long as they avoid the situation (or their perpetrator) then they are safe. This however, is not healthy in any way. It results in another form of punishment which reinforces the negative pursuit of the accuser. I realize I am mixing psychology with a message here, but bear with me please. We need to look at what the Word tells us about dealing with confrontation and how those who feel threatened can come out of their closet and into His marvelous light, trusting Him to fight their battles.

Let’s look at what happens within the body of Christ when we don’t resolve our conflicts with one another. Ephesians 4:31 tells us to rid ourselves of anything that might set us up against our brother. Why? Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the Grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”

Regardless of whether we practice avoidance, or we talk (gossip) about it, bitterness is bound to set in. Our protective cages of anger, self-pity and even envy can affect us. This is the cancer that can kill the soul. It is also a device of the enemy to cause division within the church. Therefore it must be dealt with.

According to the Bible, Christians should:

  1. Settle differences (2 Corinthians 13:11).
  2. Be patient and kind toward each other (1 Corinthians 13:4).
  3. Consider other people first (Philippians 2:3).
  4. Love each another (John 13:34, Romans 12:10).
  5. Bear other people’s burdens (Ephesians 4:2).
  6. Rejoice in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6)
  7. Live in peace with others (Romans 15:5).

What about those who fear confronting their accuser? This fear has left a scar that prevents them from confronting anyone because they want to avoid further conflict. They must first realize they are only punishing themselves, but those who are stronger in Christ can help them overcome their fear of conflict by walking with them until they are strong enough to stand on their own.

They need to see that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. This liberty allows them to take a stand and not allow their boundaries to be violated. I believe in this situation it is best if another person goes with them to face their accuser and help them prayerfully work it out.

If the accuser refuses to acknowledge their faults (which is often the case at first), then they must be left to their own devices. This is in the hopes of them coming to repentance. It’s for the saving of their soul, not because we might think we got one on them for that is pride.

Regardless of the circumstance, forgiveness is the key element in resolving conflict. Jesus clearly talked about it on many occasions. Even the apostles had to deal with and resolve conflict among themselves. Conflict places us in an uncomfortable position where we would rather avoid it than face it. We also lash out causing an outburst of anger. This is called the “fight or flight” response. This response brings on stress which results in many afflictions that are placed on us, not the other person.

I come from an environment that caused me to learn over the years that I must define my boundaries according to the Word of God, and hold the line tight. For the accuser who was use to my relenting, he at first came against me with all barrels pointed at me. I chose life and I still choose life today as the web that I allowed to be entwined around me slowly unravels. Each time I choose life over my situation. If I focus on the negative and the darkness of it I only allow myself to remain there.

Jesus came as the light of the world. He is salt and light. He is our ever present help in our time of need. There were times I needed others to help me through, but God is always faithful to help me take a stand and resolve differences through His Word.

In 2004, Lea Bates answered the call to begin a women's prison ministry and in 2007 helped pioneer a drug and alcohol regeneration center for women. She is an ordained minister living in Georgia. Lea's first book, “Before I Knew You," is available in paperback through Lulu.com.