Summary: God’s will for us is not only relevant when we are at peace, but it is also relevant during conflict.
Harmony in the Local Church
1. When conflict arises, some Christians throw out all or many of the rules.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde
"Stevenson’s man found a trick by which he could change himself into the person of another man, make an actual transformation of himself. He could change, not only his internal thoughts and feelings, but also his external looks and actions. Whenever he wanted to turn himself into Mr. Hyde, he took a drug and the miracle was accomplished. He changed his handwriting. He had a separate bank account for Mr. Hyde--everything in life was separate. When Mr. Hyde, (who went down into sin and constantly wallowed in those depths of iniquity) wanted to get away from being Mr. Hyde, he took the drug and went back to being Dr. Jekyl. When the officers were after him, he had simply to go into the laboratory and swallow a pill, and when they arrived the man they were looking for was not there.
That process went on through the years, but this was the peculiar fact about it: Not only by his will could he change himself into another man, and so on back and forth, but he discovered at last, when it was too late that, every time he transformed himself from the good Dr. Jekyl into the evil Mr. Hyde, then Mr. Hyde became increasingly the stronger, until at last the climax was reached. It became harder and harder to make the transfer, and then, it could not be made at all. Dr. Jekyl was dead, and Mr. Hyde still lived, but he was damned to eternal darkness and death, helpless and hopeless."
2. There are two of you, the normal you and the conflicted you. Does your Christianity run so deeply that it affects both of you? Are you able to let your convictions guide you, even when your emotions are chiming in? Or do you turn into Mr. Hyde during conflict?
3. Nothing tests your personal maturity like conflict: marriage, children, work, neighborhood, and church. It can be impossible to be Mr. Spock-like and non-emotional, for we are not robots, but we can keep our emotions in check by grabbing onto convictions, like holding a railing while we are walking in the dark.
4. Peter has been talking about relationships: slaves, spouses, and now about relationships within the church family, but it also includes relating to our marriages and families, since, in most instances, our family members are also members of the Body of Christ.
Main Idea: God’s will for us is not only relevant when we are at peace, but it is also relevant during conflict.
TS--> Peter suggest three principles to help us handle conflict the right way.
I. Live In A Way that PROMOTES Harmony (8)
A. The context: fellow BELIEVERS
1. some people believe the myth that conflict will not occur in church, of all places
2. if the early church experienced conflict after conflict, why should we be exempt? idealism is nice on paper, but we are about real life…
3. conflict occurs when people have strong opinions or agendas
B. The summary: nurture HARMONY (8a)
1. harmony means unity of thought and feeling
harmony = o(mo/frwn (homophr?on) "like minded"
2. harmony is not surrender
3. as important as harmony is, certain truths are more important
4. Marylu and I
• paperwork/office work = no harmony; so harmony here means division of labor)
• Youth work/people work = great harmony
C. Ways to PROMOTE harmony (8b,c)
• sumpaq´hs (sympath?as) = sharing in feeling
• You must have sympathy for the right people. I read a book called, "The Wounder Minister," and the author recounts story after story about churches that destroyed ministers because of an unhealthy board member and his friends. Generally, the people of the church know these things are happening, but they are passive, sort of like passing by and watching someone getting mugged without getting help. But the author, Guy Greenfield, mentioned a church that had sympathy for the right party.
• They nabbed the troublemaker when the new pastor came.
• They confessed they should have spoken up earlier and not allowed this man to attack the other pastor and make his life miserable.
• They told him, ’"behave or you are out."
• Just like in the realm of crime, we should have more sympathy for the victims than we do the perpetrators…
2. BROTHERLY LOVE
• fil´´adelfos (philadelphos)= love of brother
• this comes from vulnerability and honesty (opening up)
• this comes from shared experiences
• for some of us, it takes a long time being comfortable being human
e´´u)splagxnos ( (eusplagchnos) = compassionate tenderness
Do you care? Do you start off with harshness and then tone down, or do you start out with gentleness and get firmer as needed? What is your assumed starting point?