Christians and Conflict: How to Approach Confrontation with Grace
The old adage says “In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes”. It can be argued, though, that there’s a third, just as certain issue: conflict.
It’s one constant that will perpetuate itself throughout our lives and if we don’t learn how to deal with it (and well), we will go through life disturbed and unhappy.
So what should we, as apprentices of Christ, do when we disagree with others?
Whether the other party is a fellow Christian or not, there are ways to approach conflict. Before we get into the how, let’s look at the why…
No one wants to have that conversation; it’s awkward. Most of the time, both parties walk away feeling defeated and deflated. Confrontation is an intimidating process so why would we subject ourselves to it?
Generally, conflict happens when we’ve been wronged or when our ideas encounter friction with another’s. And usually, we store up the hurt or anger until we become bitter towards another person. When we do this, we allow a wall to be built between us and others but more importantly, it blocks our fellowship with God.
1 John 4:20 “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
If for no other reason than to be able to continue communion with Christ, we also engage in tough conversations to make each other better.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
When you sharpen a knife, you don’t bang another piece of metal against it. You go along with the other metal to shave away anything that doesn’t belong. By walking with each other, challenging our brothers and sisters to remove those things that keep us from growing, we are making the body of Christ more holy.
As Christians, we don’t simply accept our brothers and sisters as they are. We love them, but we don’t let them stay in sin or continue destructive behaviors.
The kid at the drive through accepts you for who you are; you won’t get a lecture alongside a quarter pounder.
A good coach or mentor doesn’t tell you how wonderful you are all the time - their job is to make you better, to disagree with you, not keep you just as you are.
We do the same to grow the body of Christ and increase our sanctification.
The why can be summed up in one sentence: we speak the truth in love so that we can grow together.