February 8, Wednesday

The AMI QT devotionals from Feb. 6-12 are provided by Cami King.  Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, recently completed her M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary.  She is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh. 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY

Conflict Resolution

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. 16 Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other.17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

8Here is how you can turn a disagreement into a feud:

  1. Be sure to develop and maintain a healthy fear of conflict, letting your own feelings build up so you are in an explosive frame of mind. 
  2. If you must state your concerns, be as vague and general as possible. Then the other person cannot do anything practical to change the situation. 
  3. Assume you know all the facts and you are totally right. The use of a clinching Bible verse is helpful. Speak prophetically for truth and justice; do most of the            talking. 
  4. With a touch of defiance, announce your willingness to talk with anyone who wishes to discuss the problem with you. But do not take steps to initiate such            conversation. 
  5. Latch tenaciously onto whatever evidence you can find that shows the other person is merely jealous of you. 
  6. Judge the motivation of the other party on any previous experience that showed failure or unkindness. Keep track of any angry words. 
  7. If the discussion should, alas, become serious, view the issue as a win/lose struggle. Avoid possible solutions and go for total victory and unconditional surrender. Don’t get too many options on the table. 
  8. Pass the buck! If you are about to get cornered into a solution, indicate you are without power to settle; you need your partner, spouse, bank, whatever. 

(Ron Kraybill, Tell it to the Church, Lynn Buzzard, David C. Cook, 1982, p. 23)

Disagreements are inevitable in community. Anyone who grew up with siblings knows that time and proximity are the only two ingredients required to eventually stir up conflict between two individuals who differ in anyway. Having conflicts is unavoidable – we can’t do much about that. But handling conflicts – now that’s another story.

Paul speaks to us about the importance of handling conflicts well whenever they arise in the community of faith. We have to be careful to handle conflicts appropriately and swiftly so that there are no divisions among us. Why? Because we are family! God’s family – we are united as One in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to be a peacemaker in my faith community. I specifically want to surrender these specific areas of conflict that I am facing today – [name them].  Give me a heart of humility in my dealings with others and remind me of the precious bond Your children share through the blood of Jesus. In His name I ask these things. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Judges 18


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read James 4:1-10: What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does James say causes conflicts in our relationships with one another? Looking at conflicts you’re currently experiencing or conflicts you’ve experienced in the past, how do you see the truth of vv. 1-2 play out?
  2. What is James’ solution to our problem with conflicts?
  3. What are some ways God is calling you to draw near to Him? What are some ways God is calling you to humble yourself? How could this affect situations of conflict in your life?

Notes

  1. James says that conflict is caused by our own pleasures (or desires) waging war within us. We find ourselves in conflict with others because we have conflict within ourselves. We have felt needs or desires that aren’t being met. As a result, we try to meet them in other people (who often fall short), and then blame them our predicament – usually subconsciously. Every conflict can be boiled down to an unmet (whether perceived or real) need or desire (be it legitimate or illegitimate).
  2. The Sunday School answer rings true here – JESUS. The Lord is the source of all that we need and when we feel like our needs (and desires) aren’t being met, it’s best for us to go the source – to the one who provides all things for us. And when we go to Him, we must do so with an open heart, giving Him room to examine our motivations and reform our desires.
  3. Spend time in personal reflection.

EVENING REFLECTION

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Jesus’ words above suggest that there is more riding on our relationships with one another than merely our own happiness. The fate of those outside the community of faith is bound up in our relationships. It is by our love for one another – and our willingness to lovingly address the inevitable conflicts that arise – that the world will come to know we belong to Jesus and will begin to see just what His love is all about.

What are some ways you’ve seen how poorly handled conflict deter others away from the Church and the Good News we proclaim? Spend some time praying for your Church community. Ask that God would help you all to demonstrate his love especially in situations of conflict.

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