Summary: Part 10 of "Being the Church," focusing on the reality of conflict and how the Bible instructs on dealing with it in a Christ-like manner.
Being the Church
God’s Conflict Resolution
Scripture: Acts 15:36-41
Icebreaker: Two men who lived in a small village got into a terrible dispute that they could not resolve. So they decided to talk to the town sage. The first man went to the sage’s home and told his version of what happened. When he finished, the sage said, "You’re absolutely right." The next night, the second man called on the sage and told his side of the story. The sage responded, "You’re absolutely right." Afterward, the sage’s wife scolded her husband. "Those men told you two different stories and you told them they were absolutely right. That’s impossible -- they can’t both be absolutely right." The sage turned to his wife and said, "You’re absolutely right."
David Moore in Vital Speeches of the Day
Intro: Many of you guy in here learned that trick a long time ago only with the words, “Yes, dear.” It’s not always so easy to get out of a disagreement, is it?
-You know, a lot of times the problem is simply that we’d rather right than be gracious. We’d rather have a victory than have peace. Hip-hop superstar Kanye West put it this way in one of his songs: “You say I think I’m never wrong. You know what? Maybe you’re right. Aight?”
-At least he’s honest. But let’s be even more honest this morning: disagreements can strain even the best of relationships. It did for Paul and Barnabas. Up to this point in our series, “Being the Church,” we’ve seen many, many instances were the early Church did things right. Paul and Barnabas were big reasons for that. But one of the things I appreciate the most about the Bible is that the Bible never flatters its heroes. If a Biblical hero messes up, the Bible records everything in heart-wrenching detail. But you know why I love that? Because I can relate to those men and women; and you can, too.
-So this morning, let’s take a look at a small section of the book of Acts that I honestly wish wasn’t there, but I’m so glad it is. Paul and Barnabas, after years of successful ministry together, have a disagreement…and the consequences are disastrous.
(READ ACTS 15:35-41 AND PRAY)
"The time to win a fight is before it starts."
Frederick Lewis (Brigadier General, United States Army, 1948-2007)
How To Deal With Annoying People, Phillips & Alyn, 2005, p.193
4 Facts about Disagreements
1. Disagreements are inevitable.
-People are unique. All of us come from different walks of life. We have different backgrounds, different temperaments, different sets of opinions, etc. So sometimes we’re going to disagree. We’re going to find ourselves in conflict. It’s just a fact of life. What matters is how we deal with conflict in our relationships when the conflict comes.
2. Even Godly people will not always agree.
-You know the biggest problem with churches? They’re full of people. I mean, FULL of people. And because people are people, sometimes disagreements arise even among Christians. But disagreements in and of themselves don’t make us sinners. We can accommodate one another in love, and mature believers can disagree without being disagreeable.
-Every follower of Jesus would do well to adopt author Robert Cook’s attitude: “God reserves the right to use people who disagree with me.” Amen.
3. Every disagreement has the same two ingredients: an issue and varying viewpoints.
-And the issue always involves some principles that we hold, and the viewpoints always involve personalities. Different points of view on the same issue are usually what lead to conflict in relationships. If we will simply identify the issue that’s causing conflict and recognize one another’s viewpoints, 100% of the time we will be able to better move towards resolution of the conflict as opposed to simply digging our heels in. You know how often that moves us towards resolution of the conflict? Hardly ever.
4. In many disagreements, each side is valid.
-You know, in the heat of an argument, we usually see only one side. And which side is that? Our own, of course. If we will calm down, though, we can almost always begin to see the issue from the other side. And if we’re really honest, we’ll have to admit that the conflict is really a matter of perspective rather than who’s right and who’s wrong. Most times, each side has valid points.
-So disagreements are bound to happen. And often, both sides are at least partially right. It was no different for Paul and Barnabas. But there’s something else we need to know about disagreements: They have a tendency to escalate into full scale conflicts and destroy relationships with the people we care about most.
-Unfortunately, this was the case for Paul and Barnabas. These close friends, brothers in Christ and pioneers of the Church never ministered together again after this conflict in Acts 15. But fortunately, we can learn from their mistake. God speaks very clearly to us in His Word about his remedies for relationships in conflict. These 3 remedies are going to be our focus this morning.