Jesus anticipated two ways conflict could disrupt peaceful relationships among his followers.
He gave specific directives about two potential sides of conflict.
In each case, Jesus emphasized the importance of protecting unity by placing urgency of reconciled relationships.
1. Your brother has something against you
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
2. Your brother sins against you
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17, NLT).
(In each example, whether offended, or the one who caused offense, followers of Christ must take personal responsibility and initiative in pursuing reconciled relationships).
Make every effort…..
- “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace” (Romans 14:19).
- “Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
- “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy” (Hebrews 12:14).
- “Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Philippians 2:14).
- “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins (offenses)” (I Peter 4:8).
- It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel (Pr. 20:3).
The key to unity is not the removal of all conflict (that happens in heaven) but a deeply shared commitment to reconciliation based on God’s love for us in Christ (see: Ephesians 4:32-5:1; Titus 3:3-7).