Resolving Differences Quickly
There are conflicts, of course, among all of you?
Well, yes and no. There are, but Jesus through Paul said, “Do not ever let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). If it’s a good relationship, you’ll solve things fast. And yes, Paul said, “Of course there are differences among you to show who is approved of God.” Okay? So yes, there are different levels of maturity. There are different personalities. But what will happen is what Jesus said, “If you have a conflict, go to that brother, go to him and him alone, and try to win your brother or sister. If he won’t hear you, bring two or three others and then Jesus will be there in your midst. If he still won’t hear you, then you’ve got a big problem. You’re going to have to get the whole Church involved to work it out” (Matthew 18:15-17).
For example, let’s say “Sally” is a really nervous person. Maybe she was abused when she was a little girl and became a Christian later. She’s kind of nervous and shy. Now picture another sister who grew up in a very open home, maybe even a Christian home, and she says, “What’s wrong with Sally? She makes me nervous being so nervous! I don’t like her and she’s not very much fun. When I talk to her she looks the other way.”
Well, here’s what’s going to happen. Because both sisters have a lot of other sisters involved in their lives every day, the one sister who is shy and nervous is going to have people helping her relax and helping her learn how to love others. She’s going to grow and change. The sister who is saying, “What’s wrong with her?” is going to have someone ask her, “Are you annoyed with her because she doesn’t love Jesus? If she doesn’t love Jesus, you have a right to be annoyed about that. Or, are you annoyed with her because of her personality? If so, shame on you! You need to repent because you are judging after the flesh. You’re not having compassion. She was abused when she was a little girl.”
Then tears run down the cheeks of the sister who was being judgmental, and from that day forward she becomes the closest of friends with the sister who used to bother her. So are there problems? Yes! But we don’t permit any problems to go on and on and on. Problems come up, but the problems become opportunities for growth. Every opportunity is an opportunity for growth, and we leave nothing undone.
If I don’t like a person, I have to deal with that and repent. No one is going to let me get away with not liking someone. We’re going to find out if I don’t like them because they’re not much like Jesus, or if there is some other reason. If they are not like Jesus, and they repent, that will help both of us. However, if I don’t like them because of some misunderstanding or some personality issue, in that case, I’m the one who needs to repent. In every case, everyone’s going to change. The fact that there are many issues is a good thing, because it forces us all to get closer to Jesus. Our commitment is that we will never, ever ignore a problem. If there’s any distance, any walls, any barriers, any misunderstandings, we WILL get to the bottom of it and solve it.
I’ll give you an example of something that happened between an unbelieving teenage child and me. An unbelieving young person felt comfortable enough to come and talk to me because I’m as approachable as anybody else. I’m not some “holy man” and he knows I’m not. I’m not the “boss.” I’m not the “king of the universe.” I’m just a man like anybody else, who wants to know Jesus, and wants to hear the Word of God even if it comes from a donkey or a teenager. This young man felt that I was very approachable. He asked me if I was being materialistic to have my car repaired after it was destroyed in a heavy storm by balls of ice. Both windshields were crashed in, and there were over 300 deep dents in the car. There was frame, sheet metal, and paint damage too. Many houses in our neighborhood, nearly all, had roofs and siding destroyed.
A young teenager, not a Christian, was almost insistent that it would be materialistic and worldly of me to have the insurance policy pay to repair these things, as the company had agreed to do. Now, I could have been offended by that. I could have “put him in his place,” and said, “How dare you! Get the log out of your own eye. You’re not even a Christian. You don’t even have Jesus in you yet.” Or I could have blown him off by saying dishonestly, “Thank you for coming to me about that. Thank you so much. I appreciate that.” That would make me a hypocrite—if I wasn’t really listening to him, right?
So I took a step back and I said, “I will think, and I will pray about that. Let me tell you my first reaction and see if it makes sense to you. If it doesn’t make any sense to you, if it sounds like I’m just making excuses, then you can tell me that, too. You can even go and get two or three witnesses and talk to me about it again if you think I’m in sin about it. Jesus said, ‘Bring two or three witnesses.’ Please do, because I want to hear this properly. I want to hear God’s voice in this.”
Certainly, I could have told him to back off, that he did not know what he was talking about. Perhaps he didn’t, but it is not Jesus’ Way to ignore or put down those who bring something up, even if they are incorrect. To squash input would be a crime against God, as well as discouraging to others. If they are wrong, let’s learn together. If they are right, let’s learn together. But, the prideful and defensive days of religion are over, if we are going to find Father’s Favor and Blessings. “Religion” that does not include vulnerability, transparency, and humility cannot be Christianity.
We had to learn this culture, this way of living. This is not the culture of America. It is not the culture of Asia. It’s not the culture of Africa. It’s not the culture of Canada or South America. It’s not anybody’s culture but God’s, so everyone has to learn it.
Now there are several important points here. Number one, the culture of the Kingdom of God is openness. You just DO that. Otherwise it’s hypocrisy. The culture of the Kingdom of God is that we never leave anything unresolved. Ever. A hypocrite is a person who thinks one thing, and says something else. They’re a liar. Jesus hated hypocrisy. He didn’t even get angry at the woman caught in adultery, but He got angry at the hypocrites, and they were people who did a lot of religious good stuff. He was mad at them because they thought one thing and then said something else. They were liars and hypocrites and He was furious and called them names in public, and He didn’t even go to them privately first! He just publicly made fun of them. “You are hypocrites!”
Well, we’ve learned in the Kingdom of God that the father of lies, satan, will NOT have his way with us. He will not teach us to be hypocrites. So we’ve changed our culture from a private, prideful culture of being selfish, prideful, or fearful people, to the culture of the Kingdom of God—which is to be open and vulnerable and soft and teachable from the least to the greatest.
So, that’s a wonderful question. It’s not utopia. It’s not paradise where there are no problems. But it’s a beautiful opportunity to use the Word of God with each other, to help each other become more mature, and more like Jesus, which is what we all want. If there is no tension, if there’s not a struggle, then maybe we wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow. We don’t think our problems are a bad thing. They’re actually good things because they show us ways we can grow.