"How to Become Peacemakers in a Time of Conflict"
By Bill Dupley
6, 2020, I rose early, and I was praying in my gazebo when I felt an overwhelming sense of grief. I started to wail, and although tears did not come to my eyes, I felt them in my heart. As I pondered why I felt this way, I thought I felt the suffering of the
The apostle Paul describes in the book of Philippians (3:10) the essential things in his life. He says:
1. I want to know Christ.
2. I want to know the power of His resurrection.
3. I want to know the fellowship of His sufferings.
I believe I felt the way the Lord was feeling about the division
and bitterness that has crept into His Church and America due to this election.
The Lord encourages us in the book of Matthew (5:9), "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."
I believe it's time for God's Church to do this.
Jesus states that a peacemaker is the actual evidence of a son of God. The question is, how do we become that? I have a few suggestions.
Not all conflict is bad. Creative people understand conflict. Healthy conflict leads to innovation. People who are committed to listening to other members of a team will
generally produce a better result. This process is called synergy.
Synergy is defined as the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect
more significant than the sum of their separate effects. A democratic government is based on synergy. Synergy is a good thing, it's a gift from God.
However, unresolved conflict is destructive to both
the individual and society as a whole.
In the Book of Matthew, Jesus preaches the sermon on the mount. It is one of the most profound messages ever declared. It deals extensively with relationships, and
how to live a blessed life.
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12)
• Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
• Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
• Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
• Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
• Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
• Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
• Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
• Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against
you because of Me.
• Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven; for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets before you.
then goes on in this chapter and describes how we are to respond when we are in situations of conflict or problems, and how to deal with real-life issues such as:
• Anger and reconciliation
• Oaths and vows
He concludes with the most controversial statement that has ever been declared:
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven..." (Matthew
Jesus says that loving your enemy and forgiveness are the solutions to dealing with conflict. We have to wonder, why does Jesus want us to respond this way?
Impact of Not Dealing with Conflict
I read a book once called "None of These Diseases." In this book, the author talks about the fact that it's not what you eat that will kill you; it's what
He tells a story of a man that said, "The man I hate hounds me. He will not let me sleep; he makes all my food taste like sawdust."
man he hated was not there. The problem was all in his mind. Intense emotional issues such as hatred, un-forgiveness and bitterness will all lead to physical problems. Dr. Stuart McMillen, the author of the book, identified that such things as colitis, arthritis,
heart trouble, and many other issues were aggravated or caused by strong emotions.
Jesus wants us to be free from this internal conflict. The solution is to forgive, bless, and release people into your
Jesus' Solution for Conflict
Jesus outlines how to respond to conflict:
if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)
Jesus is clear here. If we have an issue with someone, we need to go and deal with it face-to-face, and try to resolve it to the best of our ability.
are not to ruminate about it.
• We are not to talk to all of our friends about it.
• We are not to post it on Facebook.
• We are not to bear false witness.
He is clear about taking a step to deal with it. He says, don't even bother bringing in an offering to the Lord until you deal with your issues with other people.
if your brother sins against you, He also has a solution for that. He says, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother." (Matthew 18:15)
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. It is far better to go to them and make things right than brood over it and generate hatred toward them. Personal
offenses should be taken care of privately if the offending party is willing to do so. If he is unwilling to be reconciled, then two or three more are to be taken along as witnesses. If he still refuses to repent, then it is to be made public before the church.
Do Not Bear False Witness
There have been significant amounts of false information being transmitted this year. The ninth commandment says to not bear false witness
(Exodus 20:16). Ed Stetzer of Christianity Today made the following excellent statement about bearing false witness:
John Wesley said bearing false witness is "speaking falsely in any matter" including
"lying, equivocating, and any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbor," or to speak "unjustly against our neighbor, to the prejudice of his reputation." Of course it's not always that men are out to ruin another's reputation, but they care nothing
of ruining another's reputation in the pursuit of making their point. (Christianity Today)
Conspiracy theories are rampant today. When we retransmit anything we hear without ensuring it is the truth, we
bear false witness against the other person; unfortunately, this has been a cornerstone behavior this year. (Photo via The Noun Project)
Keys to Resolving Conflicts
Let's go back to dealing with conflict. There are five keys to resolving conflict.
You have to want to make peace. You have
to be committed to a resolution. If this is not in your heart, then you will likely not resolve conflict. If your goal is to prove that you're right, and the other person is wrong, the likelihood of conflict resolution is low.
Approach conflict resolution by acknowledging that you might be wrong, and the other person might be right. Be open to correction or even criticism.
Be willing to forgive and to ask forgiveness. We all make mistakes. We have all sinned. In the Lord's prayer, Jesus tells us to pray, "And forgive us our sins, as we forgive
those who sin against us..." (Luke 11:4).
4. Listen to each other:
• Yield to another's admonition or advice.
• Listen to the other person's point of view.
• Listen to their position, beliefs, and boundaries.
• Listen to their reasons
• Listen without judgment.
• Put yourself in the other person's shoes and practice empathy.
• Don't be in a hurry to defend yourself or speak.
• Listening and empathy can do more for resolving conflict than anything else.
Avoid confrontational responses
• It is said communication stops when the yelling begins.
• Avoid absolute statements like "you always"
and "you never."
• No name-calling.
• Don't criticize or put down people.
Ask questions and take time to clarify and confirm your understanding and reflect on what you hear respectfully.
• Be honest with yourself; if you find you are being unreasonable or conflicted in
your heart, be open to listening to another.
A House Divided Against Itself Will Fall
As I mentioned, this entire article started with a feeling.
As I considered the deep sense of tears in my heart, I was reminded of the following words: "A house divided against itself will fall" (see Matthew 12:22-28). Abraham Lincoln quoted this on June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois. He was dealing with a divided
nation. Although the problems have changed, the warning of a great president remains.
I encourage us all to set aside our differences, forgive each other, and be the sons of God we are called to be. Although
we are sometimes divided, at the end of the day we are all children of God indistinguishable in His eyes.
By Bill Dupley
The Secret Place
Ellsworth St. SW
Albany, OR 97321