Mrs. Edwards and Fri. Kussin from The Library of Congress on Flickr.
By Lisa Nordell-Detres
Who likes to argue? Who enjoys conflicts and being offended? I have met a few people in my lifetime who seem to derive perverse pleasure from getting under other people’s skin, but the vast majority of rational humans would rather avoid conflicts. Did you know that in Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus lays out His solution for resolving conflicts? This is what His prescription is:
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” (NKJV)
There are three steps to Jesus’ plan for conflict resolution:
1. Go talk to the person directly. This is one of the hardest things to do, because it requires direct confrontation, but most often, the other person will be reasonable and the issue will be resolved. Notice, Jesus did not say to post it on Face Book, tell all your girlfriends about it, Tweet to the world or anything else besides first going alone to the person who offended you.
2. If that person refuses to take any responsibility for the offense, then you need to get another person or two as witnesses to establish the issue and both sides of the story. This should not look like an ambush or attack, but rather a calm meeting in which the issue at hand is discussed and documented.
3. If the offender still refuses to apologize or accept responsibility, then you need to take it to your church leadership; provided that other person is a Christian or at least accepts the authority of the church. If she still won’t back down, Jesus says to treat her as an unbeliever.
This is where it gets interesting because traditionally, unbelievers, tax collectors and heathens were banned from the church, treated as second class citizens and shunned by church people. Step back and think about this. With whom did Jesus hang out with much of the time while He walked the earth? Heathens and tax collectors. What He was trying to tell us from His example was that we need to show love and compassion for those who offend us as lost sheep who need to come to repentance.
I know this is a hard thing to do, but if we resolve issues Jesus’ way, we may find that we have way more friends and a better understanding of one another!
Lisa Nordell-Detres is a mother of four, grandma to three boys, a pastor’s wife and has worked in the garment and customer service industries in southern California. Besides writing, Lisa enjoys cooking, sewing, organic gardening, hiking, skiing and doing most anything outside. Lisa is a member of the Central Oregon Writers Guild.
Lisa was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, studied Christian Apologetics at Simon Greenleaf University, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Fashion Design from Woodbury University and an MBA from California State University at Northridge. Lisa, her husband and their youngest child now live in central Oregon.