No one is perfect because they are not God. No church is perfect because it has people in it. Conflicts will arise but God desires us to resolve them Biblically. Believers must take the initiative to restore peace. Peacemakers are different than peacekeepers. Peacemakers uphold the Word and truth, applying it to conflict. Peacekeepers avoid truth and compromise to avoid conflict.
It doesn’t matter if you have wronged your brother or he has wronged you. You are always responsible to initiate peacemaking (Matthew 5:23-24 and 18:15). Those who are sincere about pursuing peace do not concern themselves with who started the offense. They just want one thing – peace restored between believers. Conflict that is left unresolved between believers is sin. This results in bitterness, anger, and possibly even wrath. If left unresolved it can be a cancer that can cause serious spiritual surgery later on.
Some have said that time and space heal everything. Maybe time and space allow emotions to settle but they do not heal. Healing from conflict only comes through Christ and handling things according to Scripture. Time and space alone only bring more time and space between Christians. Time and space alone cause things to worsen and eventually explode leaving a huge mess.
Believes must take the initiative to resolve conflict. A text, email, and most of the time a phone call won’t do it. Face to face repentance and forgiveness are necessary. And when you forgive, you must do so by intentionally deciding to not talk about the offense, dwell on it, let it grow, or use it as a weapon in the future. If you have something that gets in the way of you and someone else in this way you must go to them and talk it out in a loving and positive manner.
When you are resolving conflict, you must fully listen to the other person. This shows you understand the other person, realize you are not a “know-it-all” and you value the other person’s perspective. While you may not agree with everything each other says you must be able to walk away in unity, valuing principle over preferences and truth over opinion. Someone once said a stiff apology is a second insult. We must work hard at avoiding this.
You must do everything possible to be reconciled to your brother or sister in Christ. While you cannot force them to do what is right you can still demonstrate your willingness to do everything possible to resolve the conflict. God honors this and if you have done this you have fulfilled your responsibility to peace and unity (Romans 12:18). You must then move on if someone stubbornly refuses to be reconciled. Hopefully, for the sake of the body of Christ and God’s glory, nothing will stand in between the church’s mission.
All sin destroys the church. Division and separation destroy it directly while al others will eventually destroy it consequentially. You must do these seven A’s of conflict resolution: 1) address everyone involved, 2) avoid “if”, “but”, and “maybe”, 3) admit what you did, 4) apologize, 5) ask for forgiveness, 6) accept consequences, and 7) altar your behavior, learning from your mistakes.
Remember there is a huge distinction between reconciliation and forgiveness. You must always forgive but sometimes reconciliation doesn’t happen. It only takes one person to forgive but two to be reconciled. Forgive others even if they don’t ask for it. Only God can remove and forgive sins of another but you can lay aside your own anger, bitterness, and resentment allowing God to work in you.