Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Conflict in Christ

How are Christians to deal with conflict and disagreement with each other? Well, the category of being "in Christ" has got to be the starting point for any dealing with this problem. It is fascinating to see how Paul continually describes other believers as being "in Christ". For example, look at Rom 16:2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11b, 12, 22. Also striking is how Paul asks Euodia and Syntyche "to agree with each other in the Lord" (Phil 4:2). Being "in Christ" is the framework or atmosphere in which we are to view each other as Christians, and we need to particularly hold onto this in the midst of conflict. What implications does this have? Well it means that in speaking truth to one another and sorting through an issue...

1. I cannot distance myself from you as if you are a thing or an object because we are united in Christ. Whatever issue divides us, it is smaller than Christ.
2. When I look at you I must remember that I am dealing with a member of Christ, yes even Christ himself. When I wound/lie to/manipulate/rage at/hate you, I am doing all these things to the body of Christ.
3. All Christ's promises are as true for you as they are for me.
4. The Cross saves you as much as it saves me.
5. When I speak truth, righteousness and goodness, I am honouring Christ in you.
6. When I am cowardly before you or avoid confronting your sin I dishonour Christ in you.

The point is: being in Christ does not mean that we stop having conflict or diasgreeing with one another. It does not mean that we avoid open and truthful discussion. Nor does it mean that visible, immediate harmony is the ultimate goal. But, rather, it means that we handle these issues in a unique way amongst ourselves. We remember that we are "in Christ" right now and that sets the parameters for how we deal with the conflict. Look here for an excellent article on creating healthy peace within the church community.