Summary: How to deal with conflict in the family of God
Mt. 18.15-17 “Family Feud”
One of the things I know about families is that at some point there will be an issue upon which they can not agree. These are called fights. My wife and I have had some. I know you find that hard to believe as wonderful as she is and as nearly perfect as I am, however, it’s true. My wife and I have sometimes had periods in our marriage where we have disagreed about something and unable to resolve the issue, it has risen to a level of disagreement that could be considered a fight. Now this doesn’t happen very often, mainly because I know the two words that keep my wife happy and keep me out of fights, and they are these “yes dear.”
But every once in a while, I can’t bring myself to say these words and even though I’m certain I’m probably wrong and she’s certain I’m wrong, we have a disagreement. And I know that in this way, we aren’t alone. You have had them too, in your family. Times when you have fought. You were wrong. And she knew you were wrong, but you couldn’t help yourself.
Every family experiences disagreements. Every family comes to a bump in the road where each member thinks that they are right and those around them are wrong and no matter how much they try to win everyone over to their way of thinking, everyone else is convinced that they are just as right. This happens in functional families just like it happens in dysfunctional families. Every family has fights. And just like our individual families, churches have disagreements, fights. Times in which people don’t agree on an issue and hard as they may try, they can’t resolve the issue.
At the first board meeting I had here, I shared with the board members that when these times occur, when there are issues that arise here at our church because of disagreements, and the sparks begin to fly and a little fire gets started, they carry two buckets. Leaders always carry two buckets. In the first bucket is gasoline and in the second bucket is water. It will be up to them to choose which bucket they will throw on the fire. One will put the fire out and of course, the other will cause the fire to increase. And I want to say to everyone here this morning, this is true for you as well. You always have an option as to what you will do when a fire comes your way. Either put it out or add to it. And my prayer is that you will choose to put it out.
You see, satan does not want our church to be effective or functional. The enemy does not want our church to be evangelistic, or to be free in our worship, or to be reaching out to others, or for individuals to use their spiritual gifts. The enemy can’t stand to see a church growing and introducing people to Jesus Christ. And so at every chance he has, he will stir up trouble. He will use his abilities to cause the church to fight and to destroy each other and occasionally even good well meaning Christians become tools in the hands of the enemy. And every aspect of what we have talked about during this series is anti-satan. When we resolve to make this our family, our church and when we worship and give praise to God, not focused on what kind of music or what kind of ceremony or what color the carpet is, or the hymns, or whether the words are on the wall or in a book, whether we sing all six verses of the hymn or we sing all six words of the chorus seven times, when we reach out to our friends and family, when we use our spiritual gifts to serve in the church, God blesses the church and causes the church to be a blessing to the world. And the enemy can’t stand this. The enemy hates God and hates the church. The enemy desires to destroy the church and what God wishes to do with it. But we have this promise, the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lord of the Church, said that.
But sometimes even though this is true, even though we have this promise, just like a family, we have issues that arise. The devil is a liar and the scripture tells us that he seeks to devour and if we aren’t careful and attentive, we can be caught in his traps and we can be used by him to negatively impact the work of the church and the attempts to redeem the world.