02.11.2018 | “Get Useful 6: Make Your Conflict Behave (+ Communion)”

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Breaking Ground

On a scale of 1-10, how much conflict do you have in your life?

In what environment do you encounter the most conflict? Work? Home? School?

How do you deal with it? How does it affect you?


The Dig

It’s a great illusion that we—even (especially?) people in the church—will conflict-free lives. The stories of the early church are actually pretty full of conflict. However, it’s about what the early church leaders did with that conflict (as well as what that conflict was about) that mattered.

Read Acts 15:36-40

Paul is so upset about Barnabas’ (who is legitimately one of the most likable people in the book of Acts: his name literally means, “Son of Encouragement”) decision to take John Mark with him on this trip that Paul leaves them both!

Have you ever been so disappointed and/or hurt by someone’s performance or choices that it affected not only your relationship with them but also your relationship with mutual friends as well?

Have you ever forced someone to make a friendship choice—“it’s either me or them”? How did that go?

Do you regret it?

Read Galatians 2:11-14

Here Paul (again; you get the sense that controversy—or at least excitement—followed Paul wherever he went) gets into it with Peter, the leader of Jesus’ Twelve chosen messengers.

What do you see in this passage? HOW does Paul go about this interaction? From what you can tell, what is Paul upset about? Why does it matter?

Have you ever been on a team—sports, business, etc.—and had a conflict and/or disagreement on the mission?

How did that go? Did you resolve it?


Getting Out of the Hole

Again: even the early church—the “heroes of the faith”!—experienced intense conflict. And yet, one gets the sense that (a) they chose their battles wisely (over mission and purpose of the movement) and (b) they resolved them. In fact, Paul’s letters are laced through with his attitude over conflict in the churches he helped to start.

Read Romans 14:1-15:13. It’s a lengthy passage but it needs to be heard and processed as one reading in order to hear Paul’s message.

If I HAD to choose, the heart of the passage can be found in 14:14-20. The key to making conflict behave is:

1. We don’t live in isolation: if our lifestyle is upsetting someone else, we may no longer be “walking in love.” Be sensitive to the way other people live out their lives in Christ.

2. At the same time, Paul ALSO says that we don’t need to necessarily let others criticize us. This is not to say that “there’s no wrong or right”; it’s more to say almost CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES WISELY. People will not always agree with you and that’s okay.

3. Keep the mission in mind. Find common ground, things you can agree on. Christ brings us together, and the WAY in which he did that was to actually SURRENDER, not beat or debate or ague us into the Kingdom. There is a value in living a life in humility.

You can almost paraphrase Paul’s approach to conflict as, “we win by losing.” If you want to see an even more provocative example of his approach (and one of my favorite passages in the New Testament), read 1 Corinthians 6:5-8).

This week, if you find yourself conflict somewhere in your world, take a moment and breathe and ask yourself, “Is this a hill worth dying on? Why am I so invested? What is at stake here: my pride or something legitimate.”

Seek to win by losing. Make your conflict behave by living at peace this week.