Conflict is a Time to Rely on God

Conflict is a Time to Rely on God

Conflict happens. It’s a fact of life that people can love God and want what is best, and yet they can still disagree. Disagreement isn’t the problem; the problem is unresolved disagreements that are allowed to grow into bitter conflicts.
It would be rare if your group didn’t experience some sort of conflict. There could be a conflict that arises between people in your group, or there could be a conflict that happens between you and someone in your group. Don’t be alarmed if that happens. God often uses conflict to bring us to a place a greater dependence on Him and increased unity with each other.

Conflict in the early church

The early church had to deal with conflict. On one occasion, the Greek-speaking believers felt like they were being discriminated against by the Hebrew-speaking believers (Acts 6.1-6 NLT). In response, the apostles selected a group of deacons to make sure the conflict was settled and peace was restored. 
On another occasion, the question of whether Gentile (non-Jewish) believers had to obey the Mosaic Law threatened to stop the growth of the church in its tracks. A council convened in Jerusalem to discuss the issue (Acts 15 ESV). Through open debate and prayerful conversation, a consensus was reached that allowed the gospel to keep spreading and the church to keep growing.
Both of these conflicts had the potential to hurt the work of the church. But, in both cases, the conflicts were resolved in ways that put God’s grace on display and resulted in a greater sense of unity and hope. 

How Jesus addresses conflict

Fortunately, Jesus addressed this issue directly. He said, 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 ESV. Ignoring a conflict won’t resolve it. The issue must be acknowledged and addressed in a private conversation. Sensitive issues are always best-handled face-to-face. Don’t talk with others about the person; talk to the person directly. If they listen and the situation is resolved, then you’ve “gained your brother.”
If, however, the person doesn’t listen and won’t pursue reconciliation, then Jesus says, 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” Matthew 18.16-17 ESV
If the conflict can’t be solved through a personal conversation, then you’ll need to widen the circle of conversation partners. Take someone else with you who can also encourage reconciliation. Throughout the process, always remember that the goal is to resolve the issue and restore the relationship. If a person refuses to reach an agreement on the matter, you might need to invite church leaders into the situation to help you walk through it.
As a group leader, use conflict as a time to rely on God. Trust that He will give you the patience, wisdom, and discernment you need to navigate difficult times. As Paul told Timothy, correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction” 2 Timothy 4.2 NIV.
This blog features an excerpt from the Grow Series for Students, which is coming soon! Click here for more info!

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