Summary: The causes of most conflicts are more social, interpersonal or personality clashes than theological
Causes and Cures for Conficts (Acts 23:7-35)
Some Conflicts Stem More from Interpersonal Problems Than Theological or Political Differences
Illustration:Labor mightily for a healing spirit. Away with all discriminating names whatever that may hinder the applying of balm to heal your wounds...Discord and division become no Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous.
Thomas Brooks, quoted in Credenda Agenda, Vol. 5,
Illustration:In a survey by the American Sociological Review, working women said they talk with their husbands an average of 12 minutes each day.
Focus in the Family, January, 1990, p. 8.
Illustration:Some obstacles to upward communication:
1) Many employees fear that expressing their true feelings about the company to their boss could be dangerous.
2) The fairly wide-spread belief that disagreeing with the boss will block promotion still holds.
3) There is a wide-spread conviction that management is not interested in employee problems.
4) Some have the feeling that employees are not rewarded for good ideas.
5) There is a lack of supervisory accessibility and responsiveness.
6) The conviction is widespread that higher management doesn’t take prompt action on problems.
Bits & Pieces, May 1990, p. 9.
1. What are some of the reasons why most conflicts stem from interpersonal problems rather than theological differences? Many people are far more interested in love, trust and kindness than correct theology. When certain people do not get compliance to their rules, regulations or policies they can become myopic (When one can only see things from a selfish-narrow perspective).
In this passage Cladius Lysia said, “I found that Paul was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains.” (Acts 23:29) God used this Roman captain to rescue Paul from the fury of the Jews. The Lord is able to even use a heathen to expose the fact that the Jews had no legal basis for prosecuting Paul.
God knew that if Paul would have been delivered to the Jewish court they would have expeditiously had him put to death.
Ask the Lord to use whatever means necessary to show everyone that it is hatred, envy and selfish desires that are at the root of most conflicts.
2. God used Paul to bring the world of Judaism and the Roman imperialists together to witness his delivering power. God used this conflict for His sovereign purposes.
The Lord is able to deliver us both from fanatical legalists and power hungry despots if we put our trust in Him. Certainly, Paul suffered greatly at the hands of many extremists, but he showed what is possible when a person is willing to stand for Christ.
God used Paul to show how a Christian could freely integrate Christ’s message in to the Jewish, the Gentile, the Roman and the pagan worlds.
Ask the Lord to help you demonstrate how Christ’s message and love is trans-cultural.
3. God used Paul to overcome evil with good through love and truth instead of theological debate. More than forty Jews took an oath not to eat until they saw Paul dead.
Still, God used Paul to demonstrate His power and wisdom in outwitting one of the most diabolical schemes in history.
Christians are given offensive armor to move forward in the battle not to remain neutral or retreat under pressure from their foes.
Ask the Lord to help you follow the example of Paul who represents the quintessential Christian soldier. (Eph. 6:10-18)
4. Paul spoke respectfully, cheerfully and powerfully before Felix. Paul said, “Inasmuch as I know that you have been for many years a judge of this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself.”
Ask the Lord to help you learn how to disagree without being too disagreeable in disposition, approach or manner.
5. Paul stated the facts about the conflict from an objective viewpoint. Paul said, “They neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me.”
Ask the Lord to help you state the facts to exonerate yourself before your accusers with a peaceful and confident attitude.
6. Paul used the accusations as an opportunity to present Christ’s eternal hope. The great apostle took every chance to present Christ’s free gift of salvation found in the forgiveness of sins.
Ask the Lord to help you take advantage of every opportunity for the sake of the gospel.
7. God can use interpersonal conflicts as a way of catalyzing all kinds of personal, organizational and theological refinements. The Lord used Paul to knock off the rough edges of some of the Jews, the Romans and even the Caesarean pagans for Christ.