Summary: The cost of unresolved conflict in our lives

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> He chose to become at odds with his past… family… culture…just as Jesus said we must be prepared on one level not to bring peace… yet he was called to become a missionary of true peace.

· Motivated by anger… to love

· From a purpose of revenge… to reconciliation.

Over the last few months, as our nation entered a new battle, the quest for peace has challenged us again…

> God is calling us to join a Divine Peace Movement…Divine Peace-Keeping Force for humankind.

Read together…

Matthew 5:9 (NLT)

“God blesses those who work for peace,

for they will be called the children of God.”

Sermon on the Mount – Setting forth a new force into the world… a divine counter culture… who would enter into the reign and rule of God… that offers peace in a conflicted world.

From the very start… given a picture of human relationships apart from God… insecurity… Cain kills Abel.

Today despite all our progress…. The cost of conflict is telling.

· The total amount all countries spend on arms now exceeds $1 trillion a year, and about $140 billion of that is spent by Third World countries where those funds could better be invested in social programs for the poor, agricultural development, and educational improvements. ("The human cost of the small arms trade" by Larry Wilson. World Vision, Oct/Nov 1993. Pages 2-7.)

Cost of conflict in our courts…

· Consider these statistics from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). Between 1984 and 1991, civil caseloads in U.S. courts rose by 33%, yet the national population only rose by 7%.

· In 1990, "new cases filed in state courts exceeded 100 million--about one court case for every three persons in the United States."

· One research firm calculates that in 1991 alone, court costs, awards, and lost time frivolous lawsuits cost $132 billion. (’97 article in Info Search)

> Appreciate what the apostle Paul calls our calling to become “ambassadors of reconciliation.”

Christ isn’t setting forth simply an ideal…. Peace isn’t an idea; it’s a way of life.

Not just about racial harmony… but real neighbors… Rwanda… rifts between friends, family, co-workers, ….Middle East… but marriages…. Political ideas…. But personal reality. …. Becomes clear in what Christ goes on to speak of…

Matthew 5:23-24

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, [24] leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

> Profound truth about spiritual life… there is an inseparable relationship between our relationship with God and our relationship with others.

· Didn’t escape those who first heard… nor us.

· Worship is contingent on fellowship.

Becomes more specific about what such a process involves… as he speaks of the other side of conflict…

Matthew 18:15-18

"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. [16] But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ’every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ [17] If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

[18] "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Jesus is setting before us very real principles for handling conflict as peacemakers…

God’s Way of Facing Conflict…

1. Take responsibility for being timely and direct.

· Jesus addresses both sides… common calling for all involved > “GO”… responsibility falls to both… and to both there is a responsibility to go directly and timely… as soon as you’re aware.

· My experience has shown me what a strong relationship there is between being timely…. and direct.

2. Don’t assume resolution will always be immediate…but trust a reasonable process.

· Jesus foresees a potential process involved…. Not with a sense of pessimism but realism.

· Common challenge… we don’t see our conflict as easily resolvable in one step…> Jesus didn’t presume it was.

Ø One step at a time.

3. Only involve others when needed.

· “Only if they won’t listen”… unresolved… are we to involve others.

· Difficult > The emotions at work in conflict aren’t patient. Anger and defensiveness… often go searching for allies… jurors and judges for the courtroom we develop in our minds.

Ø But involving others before going directly, invariably violates the relationship itself… by nature it contends with reconciliation.

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