“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God” Matthew 5:9
I believe that He also wants to see us treating one another in a way that shows the power of the gospel in each of our lives.
The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, by Ken Sande. This is THE book about responding to conflict constructively. Ken is the founder of Peacemaker Ministeries, founded with the belief that the Bible contains all of the promises and principles needed for true peacemaking. Mr. Sande is an attorney, and is passionate about bringing the life-changing power of God’s peacemaking principles into the lives of Christians and their churches.
The book encourages us to be effective stewards in managing conflict. The most important characteristic to doing so is faithfulness. Faithfulness is not a matter of results: it is a matter of dependent obedience. God knows that you cannot control other people, so He will not hold you responsible for the ultimate outcome of a conflict, only for our own actions. Jesus teaches in 1John 4:19-21 that we cannot love and worship God properly if we are at odds with another person and have not done everything possible to be reconciled, preserving our witness for Christ. The author further points out how in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 that God prefers us to resolve disputes through the church instead of the secural courts, radical teaching in today’s litigious society. Unfortunately, many churches and their leadership do nothing to help their members resolve their disputes in a biblical manner, ignoring their responsibilities to promote peace and unity and to help believers disintangle themselves from the terrible effects of sin. This is the spiritual maturity we should expect of church staff and leadership. Sande’s book is an excellent resource for those churches willing to take the lead.
Sande points out, as noted in 1982 by Warren Burger, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court: “One reason our courts have become overburdened is that Americans are increasingly turning to the courts for relief from a range of personal distresses and anxieties. The courts have been expected to fill the void created by the decline of church, family and neighborhood unity.” Even more true today than 20 years ago. Litigation is often nothing more than professionally assisted denial and attack, distorting reality and taking a devistating toll on relationships. This is not only hindering the believers, but also disenchanting non-believers toward Christians and the church’s witness for Christ.
The book contrasts “peace-faking,” making things look good even when they’re not, common in churches where people are more concerned with appearances than realities, and “peace-breaking,” attack responses used by people who are more willing to sacrifice peace and unity to get what they want, with true peacemaking by those who are committed to working long and hard to achieve true justice and genuine harmony with others.
The Bible, and Ken Sande, teach that we should see conflict as an opportunity to demonstrate the love of God in our lives, an opportunity to glorify God, serve others and grow to be like Christ. God can use conflict to help us conform to the likeness of Christ, referred to as the ABC’s of Spiritual Growth: Adversity Builds Character!
Thanks Ken for an excellent and inspiring book!