How can we find peace in this life despite the slings of conflict and arrows of hurt randomly piercing us? How can we become agents of harmony rather than pain?
When it comes to peace, we all see the problem as “other people.” We assume we’re justified in our behaviors, with ready rationalizations at hand. As Christians, we need to scrutinize ourselves more closely than others. We are all capable of inflaming situations and deepening crisis while perceiving ourselves as righteous.
The Mennonite church (my first and earliest church as a small boy) has a historic commitment to peacemaking. They created a document called “Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love.” Their approach to conflict can help us in all quarters of life:
Accept conflict-Acknowledge conflict as normal in the church’s life. Rom. 14.1-12,19
Affirm hope-As God walks with us in conflict, we can grow through it. Eph. 4.15-16
Pray a lot-Confess our need, avoid changing others, pray for all involved. Jas. 5.16
Go to the other-Do nothing behind the back, go directly to adversaries. Mt. 5.23-24
In the spirit of unity-Go unto others in gentleness, patience, and humility. Gal. 6.1-5
Quick to listen-Listen closely, seek understanding, summarize as you go. Jas 1.19
Slow to judge-Suspend retaliatory judgment; avoid labels, name-calling Rom 2.1-4
Willing to negotiate-Work through disagreements constructively Acts 15, Phil 2.1-11
• Generate options for both parties; do not insist upon your own way.
• Evaluate options by their potential to satisfy all sides in differences.
• Collaborate to work out a joint solution so all sides can grow and win.
• Cooperate with emerging accord–accept what’s possible, not your ideal.
Steadfast in love-Commit to mutual solutions, firmly founded in Christ. Col 3.12-15
Open to mediation-Be open to skilled help, if you can’t reconcile alone. Phil 4.1-3
Trust the community-Turn it over to the wider church, if unable to resolve. Acts 15
Be the body of Christ-Believe in and rely on solidarity as Christ’s body. I Cor. 6.1-6
Notice something. How unnatural most of the above feels as we are steamed at another human being. Most of this world’s peace involves wielding some kind of sword. Most of God’s peace has to do with taking on and lifting up Christ’s cross.
May I suggest printing the above and putting this where you can see it, someplace like the refrigerator, where you can grab it as conflict envelopes you?