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Conflict in the Church

Introduction.  (Matthew 20:20-21; Luke 9:46).  The events described in these passages is most curious. These men who would be given the sacred honor of spreading the message of the gospel to the world—who would walk and talk with the Son of God Himself—who would receive the Spirit of God within them directly to direct their very words—here are bickering and quarrelling about honor and status!

·      This is “seeing the forest and missing the trees.”

·      They overlooked the glory of the life to come for temporal glory!

      We may look smugly at such accounts and ridicule their short-sightedness, but we don’t have to look far to see the same blindness in our own day. Brethren quarrel and bicker—churches divide and fragment, grow cold and die because conflict continues today as it did in the early church.

·      Conflict is carnal.  1 Corinthians 3:3 tells us, “where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal…”

·      We are given great honor.  1 John 3:1 declares, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

      This evening I’d like for us to study together what the Bible can teach us about conflict within the church. We will look at three biblical guidelines regarding how to deal with conflict.

 

I.  People do not Have to Be Identical to be Christians.

A.  Twelve Apostles (Luke 6:12-16).

1.  Fisherman (Luke 5:1-11). Viewed as common and unsophisticated.

2.  Tax Collector (Luke 5:27-32). Viewed as either crooks or Roman collaborators.

3.  A Zealot – Josephus tells us it was the zealots who started the conflict which would lead to the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome.

4. Some were Judeans, some were Galileans.

B.  In Christ the Different Become One.

1.  This is unity of faith not personality (Eph. 4:11-16).

2.  In Christ many become one (1 Cor. 12:12-14).

 

II.  Conflicts will Occur.

A.   Analogy with marriage.

1.      We must understand that conflict occurs.

2.     The challenge is how to deal with conflict.

B.    There is difficulty in functioning together (1 Cor. 12:15-21; 22-27). Paul’s words show the struggle of functioning together.

C.    We must understand that conflict must be dealt with (John 17:20-23). Jesus prayed that His people would be one.

D.   Some conflicts are necessary (2 Tim. 4:1-5; 3:1-5).

 

III.  Conflicts Must be Resolved with the Word and not the Will.

A.    I honestly believe that most conflicts could be resolved if the only thing that was allowed to be placed between people was the word of God.

B.    The word of God is impartial. It reveals truth to both sides in any conflict.

C.    We must not “love strife” (NIV “loves a quarrel.”).

D.   The word has power (Heb. 4:12-13).

E.    We must keep the unity of the Spirit in the “bond of peace” (Eph 4:1-6).

 

Conclusion.  There will be differences and conflicts within the church just as there are in any relationship. The challenge is to ever look to the word of God to allow it to direct us through all conflict.

Kyle Pope 2010

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