Bible Studies for Life Series for May 20: We all need to be peacemakers

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Posted: 5/10/07

Bible Studies for Life Series for May 20

We all need to be peacemakers

• Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 5:13- 6:5

By David Harp

First Baptist Church, Stanton

As I prepare to write, I have made mental notes about our subject of conflict in recent weeks. When I read the newspaper or watch the news, I am listening for conflict. Is there any conflict around us?

Yes, conflict is all around us. For example, a junior high school player assaulted his coach a few weeks ago. Last week, a father was shot when he stepped in and tried to break up a fight between his three children and two other teens.

The laundry list of conflict gets dirty. We all have been stained by sin. We all have mishandled conflict. We all have a need to be peacemakers. Our lesson teaches us how to confront others and how to develop ways to restore relationships.

Process (Matthew 18:15-17)

Jesus details a process for seeking to resolve conflict between two believers. First, the offended person is to go to the offender and seek personally to get the matter resolved one on one. Second, if this attempt is rebuffed, the offended person is to take another along in the attempt at resolution. If this attempt also is unsuccessful, then the church is to get involved in seeking to settle the dispute. Finally, if the offended person persists against all parties and refuses to be restored, the church is to treat this one as an unbeliever.

The ideal is that one-on-one relationships be settled without the entanglement of others, which leads to gossip and backbiting. Jesus’ command can be broken down like this in Matthew 18:15:

1. If there is conflict

2. You

3. Go

4. To the person

5. In private

6. Discuss the problem

7. For the purpose of reconciliation

Principle (Galatians 5:13-15)

Even the best of believers allow conflict to get the best of them. When this happens, serving Christ and honoring him takes a backseat. The very attitude of love which should lead us now leaves us due to the conflict. However, the passage before us tells us love is the theme of our lives.

Mother Teresa has been a model for many in the area of self-giving love. Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love.” If we can put the principle of love into our daily lives, we will accomplish much to the glory of God.

Purpose (Galatians 6:1-5)

What about a believer caught in a sin? This passage tells us it is the task of the community of believers called the local church to try to restore the one who has sinned. “Restore” is a medical term, and it is so appropriate to use here. It means a bone is out of place and needs to be put back in its rightful place—to be restored. Notice that we also are given instructions about our attitude concerning this activity of restoring—“in a spirit of meekness, considering yourself, so that you will not also sin” (Galatians 6:1). This word “restore” also was used by fishermen as they mended their nets.

What is the purpose of this action? Restoration of a sinful believer. On one hand, a sinner feels forgiven and whole again. There is something about being accepted when we know we have wronged in the body of Christ. And we have all been in the wrong. In the same way, we all get to participate in this significant purpose of the church. We are carrying one another’s burdens.

One of my heroes of the faith is a man named Clarence Jordan. He founded Koinonia farms in Americus, Ga., in the 1950s. His farm became a haven for people society would not accept or love. People of all races and cultures came to Jordan for love, grace and mercy. They found God, and they found mercy, and they found what it was like to be restored. This was true community.

Everybody was happy, right? Not really. Conflict abounded. The people often were assaulted and beaten. Arson and fires were intentionally set, even to the church. After one particularly rough week of this kind of conflict, someone in town asked Jordan how it was going, and then remarked, “Just how successful do you think you have been, Jordan?” Jordan thought for a moment, reflecting on a week of beatings and burnings. Jordan said, “I guess we’ve been about as successful as the cross.”

The cross of Jesus Christ was the ultimate conflict. Yet it brought our greatest victory because of God’s great love. All of our conflict would be better handled if only we would attempt to be as successful as the cross, where the love of Christ was poured out for us all.

Discussion questions

• What is your typical approach to conflict?

• How do you love others in the midst of conflict?

• How can you incorporate the purpose of resolving conflict into your daily life?

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