14 Feb Glorify God in Conflict
Last Sunday, Pastor Ken preached the sermon called “God’s Sovereign Purpose for Suffering,” from 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. We learned that through our suffering, God equips us to minister to others and cultivates our maturity in Christ. This ultimately looks like comforting others with the same comfort that we have received in Christ (ministry) and trusting God through prayer and dependence upon God in times of suffering (maturity).
Read: 2 Corinthians 1:12-22
This Sunday, Pastor Jason Finley will preach from 2 Corinthians 1:12-22, and we will consider how the gospel preserves the church’s unity. Apparently, the Corinthians were offended that Paul had changed his travel plans to not visit the Corinthians as he had originally intended. They called into question Paul’s integrity and therefore the integrity of Paul’s message of the gospel. The heart of Paul’s response to this offense begins in these verses, and we see that while his conscience is clear before the Lord, his final appeal is not to his integrity but to that of the uniting power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is much to be learned here regarding how the gospel safeguards our unity amidst conflict and felt offenses. As you prepare your heart for our corporate gathering, let these words from Ken Sande point you to the reconciling power of the gospel in your daily conflicts with others.
Reflect: “Glorify God in Conflict”
When someone mistreats or opposes us, our instinctive reaction is to justify ourselves and do everything we can to get our way. This selfish attitude usually leads to impulsive decisions that only make matters worse.
The gospel of Jesus Christ provides the way out of this downward spiral. When we remember what Jesus did for us on the cross, our blinding self-absorption can be replaced with a liberating desire to draw attention to the goodness and power of God. As Colossians 3:1-2 teaches, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
Focusing on God is the key to resolving conflict constructively. When we remember his mercy and draw on his strength, we invariably see things more clearly and respond to conflict more wisely. In doing so, we can find far better solutions to our problems. At the same time, we can show others that there really is a God and that he delights in helping us do things we could never do on our own.
It is important to realize that if you do not glorify God when you are involved in a conflict, you will inevitably glorify someone or something else. By your actions you will show either that you have a big God or that you have a big self and big problems. To put it another way, if you do not focus on God, you will inevitably focus on yourself and your will, or on other people and the threat of their wills.
One of the best ways to keep your focus on the Lord is to continually ask yourself these questions: How can I please and honor God in this situation? In particular, how can I bring praise to Jesus by showing that he has saved me and is changing me? Seeking to please and honor God is a powerful compass for life, especially when we are faced with difficult challenges. Jesus himself was guided by these goals. He said, “I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (John 5:30). “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him” (John 8:29). “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4). King David showed the same desire when he wrote: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).
When displaying the riches of God’s love and pleasing him is more important that holding onto worldly things and pleasing yourself, it becomes increasingly natural to respond to conflict graciously, wisely, and with self-control. This approach brings glory to God and sets the stage for effective peacemaking.
Adapted from The Peacemaker, pp. 20, 34, by Ken Sande.
Sing: Song List for Sunday
1. “The Lord Our God,” by Passion, feat. Kristian Stanfill
2. “Lamb of God,” by Vertical Worship
3. “Before the Throne,” Arr. Shane & Shane
4. “O Praise the Name (Anástasis),” Arr. Shane & Shane