Navigating Rough Waters

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On Tuesday of this week the news from Afghanistan was that a helicopter had been shot down near Kabul, leaving nine American troops dead. If you don’t pause in prayer when you hear such news you have become way too callused to the worlds’ ways of conflict resolution. I am not a pacifist, but also am one who prays for the ways of war to stop.

We know that conflict resolution on a global scale is challenged every day. What about conflict resolution on a personal level? Are you able to work through conflicts at home, work, play and in the market place, with the goal being to follow Jesus’ formula for love and reconciliation? Or do you want to slander, defeat and humiliate your opponent? The reality is that we are seeing more and more of the later.

I just saw a preview for a new movie called YOU AGAIN. One of the stars, Sigourney Weaver, in the short clip said, “Making mistakes is part of what we do. It’s how we go about fixing them that matters.”

In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus offers a strategy for conflict resolution. Jesus knows we will make mistakes, and he wants us to have a means by which to fix them. “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point that fault out with the two of you alone. If the member listens to you, you have gained a brother.” (Matthew 18:15)

I have served as a pastor now for 23 years and I have seen many conflicts in and outside the church. Rarely have I witnessed any conflict that would not have been resolved if one party had taken initiative to say “can we talk about this one on one for the purpose of finding higher ground for our relationship.” This is especially challenged today with the speed of communication and modes of transmitting messages. Any person can be slandered and slaughtered in seconds through the use of technology.

The final step in the process that Jesus outlines in Matthew 18:17 is that if the other party will not heed your attempt to gain reconciliation in your relationship, treat them “…like a tax collector or a Gentile.” First let me say most folks in Jesus’ day did not care for either the tax collector or the Gentile. However, Jesus made the ones who others struggled to love, the target of his love and mercy. Jesus is saying you may sometimes need to set a boundary, but leave the door of relational restoration open.

Pray this day for a relationship in your life that has been a struggle for you to navigate. May the wisdom of Jesus be your guide.

See you on Sunday.

Still in one peace,

David J. Jensen

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