Over the last few weeks we’ve been talking about conflict resolution and unity in youth group. The first step towards peace is to live with the desire to Glorify God, because you never know when conflict will strike. The second step is to Get the Log Out Of Your Own Eye first by prayerfully asking God to show you if you have anything you need to confess.
This week we need to honestly ask ourselves, “What’s the Win?” When you’re in a fight with someone, what do you consider a victory? Is it more important for you to be right, or for you to win back your friend? If our desire is not for peace and unity then we not peace-makers, but peace-breakers. The third step in peacemaking is to “Gently Restore.”
“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. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
FIRST: Go Alone
Just go! Maybe if you talk to the person instead of talking to everyone except him or her, then maybe you’ll find out that you misunderstood what you’re upset about. Maybe that person will realize what they did and apologize. Just go, not to accuse and win the fight, but to win back your brother/sister.
SECOND: Bring Some Trusted Friends
It’s important to remember that Jesus is giving instructions on how to deal with conflict “with a brother.” That means this is someone who considers themselves a Christian, so bringing along a few other Christian friends who are known and trusted to both of you could be really helpful. Maybe they can help you realize that you’re totally misunderstanding each other. Maybe they can help you realize that you’re both partially at fault, and you both have something to confess and apologize for? It’s important to involve some people you both know and trust who can be fair and honest in order to restore your relationship.
THIRD: Involve the Church
Now, it’s important to remember that the church was a lot smaller back then and most of them met in people’s homes. It was very personal and everyone knew everyone really really well. This doesn’t mean you should interrupt your pastor on Sunday for an “airing of grievances.” What it does mean, is if the offense is so severe that you’ve tried everything already (seeking to glorify God, getting the log out of your eye, going alone, bringing a few friends) you talk to some respected leaders in your church and ask them to help. If the Christian brother/sister still doesn’t listen and doesn’t care enough to walk towards peace with you, then there’s a real problem?
How Should We Treat NonBelievers?
If the person still doesn’t respond to your attempts for peace, that means he simply isn’t a “brother” to you anymore and you should treat him like you’d treat a nonbeliever. Keep in mind: we’re supposed to treat nonChristians with love and grace and goodness in order to win them to Christ.
If I asked your parents, how would they answer? What about your brother, sister, friends, teachers, etc.?
Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” That tells me that Christians need to be people of peace. If we are people who bring conflict and division, then we are not living as sons and daughters of God… and that’s a problem? Remember the power of Gospel is that “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He didn’t wait until we earned forgiveness to offer it. Let’s receive his grace, then pass it along to others.
Think about one person who you seem to constantly have conflict with. Would you start praying tonight that God would give you peace towards him or her? I’d love to hear stories about what God does in those relationships!