Running the Race: Dealing with Conflict - Hope 103.2

Running the Race: Dealing with Conflict

What do you think about conflict? You hear about churches around the world that implode due to conflict. Christians do get in arguments all the time, and it's hard sometimes when you're meant to represent Christ, when you're having a fight or a disagreement with someone, how do you do it in a godly way?

By Sam RobinsonFriday 5 Aug 2016FRESHChristian LivingReading Time: 4 minutes

This week on Running the Race Mal Gill lecturer at Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC) talks about conflict. Christians get into arguments all the time and it’s hard sometimes when we are meant to represent Christ; when we’re having a fight with someone or a disagreement to do that in a godly way. What are your thoughts on conflict?

There used to be a poem that I heard an old preacher say when I was a child. He used to say, “To live above with saints we love, oh what joy and glory. To live below with saints we know, that’s a different story.” And this old Irish preacher would say this. He would just remind us that, “Hey, there’s always conflict. And the hardest part about church are the people.” Why? And it’s not just church; by the way, it’s also everyone outside of church. The biggest problem is, that by nature and disposition, we tend to be selfish and we look out for ourselves and we look out for our own best interests. That’s just our natural disposition.

But the reality is too, we all have different personalities. Some people are introverts, other people are extroverts. I remember reading a Far Side comic once and it had the four people groups, types of people, and the first one, the person said, “The glass is half-full.” The second one said, “The glass if half-empty.” The third one said, “The glass if half-full. Wait, it’s half empty.” And the fourth one said, “Hey, I ordered fries with that.” And so, there are just genuinely different sort of people.

And because of that, we sometimes just rub each other the wrong way, and that’s going to happen. We are different, but we also are a broken humanity. We’re not unified the way that God has designed us to be, so there is gonna be conflict. Now, fortunately, the Bible does give us some directives in regard to this, and the Bible, as always, is realistic. It doesn’t present this sort of fake world, but the real world in which we live.

And one of the verses that helps me think about conflict, whether it’s an interpersonal relationship with a family member or it’s somebody outside, whether it’s somebody in the church, when conflict has often arisen, it’s sometimes been over things that are fairly neutral where there’s just differing of opinion. But there’s a right way to go about things and a wrong way to go about things. But I always come back to this verse in Romans 12. It says, Romans 12:18, if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Now it says, “As far as it depends on you.” I can’t control the actions of somebody else who might want to have conflict, because there are some people…I tell people, there are some people who feel they have the spiritual gift of criticism and they just love to go around and point out what’s wrong with the world, but I can’t control their actions. What I can control is my own tongue, my own thoughts, and that’s where, as far as it depends on me, I need to try and not just minimize conflict, but try and resolve if there’s tension there. Because, Sam, I’m one of these guys where I don’t like conflict, I don’t think many people do, but I’m one of those guys who goes quite the extreme where to avoid conflict.

There is a place, when we have conflicts, where we need to resolve it. That means sitting down, controlling our tongue, developing skills as a listener.

We might, for example, be eating in a restaurant and there might be a bug in the soup and my wife will say, “That’s terrible. We’re gonna talk to the waiter.” But I’m sort of one of those guys who, “Oh, I don’t want to offend the waiter so I’ll eat it anyway.” But you know what? That’s sometimes just avoiding the problem.

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There is a place, when we have conflicts, where we need to resolve it. That means sitting down, controlling our tongue, developing skills as a listener. But as far as it depends on me, I want to be a peacemaker. Blessed are the peacemakers, not just the peaceful, but the peacemakers. We want to be people who resolve conflicts. And sometimes there might be conflicts that seem a bit too hard and has differing opinions and it might just stay that way.

But I know what I can do. I can’t change somebody’s mind, but I can control my own tongue and watch myself. That’s a hard thing to do sometimes, especially when we feel strongly about a particular topic.

Each Sunday, FRESH presenter Sam Robinson chats with Malcolm Gill, lecturer at Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC), about different aspects of living the Christian life—or ‘running the race’. Hear them on air Sundays at 6.20am and 9.20am, or on FRESH just after 9pm each Saturday.