You can’t be human and completely avoid conflict. Sin has it’s way of turning us inward and lashing outward. When it comes to conflict we know how to dish it and we know what it feels like to take it. What doesn’t come so naturally is how to resolve it. So, here are a few thoughts to help us forgive one another and work toward reconciliation.
Sin and Unfulfilled Need
God made us to need each other. None of us are complete unto ourselves. When we live in selfless, interdependent love, we fulfill each other’s needs and the world functions as it was intended. However, when we seek to fulfill our own needs through selfishness or taking advantage of others, we sin and dysfunction results. This is when conflict happens. Most conflict has plenty of sin on both sides, with everyone finding frustration rather than fulfillment.
Forgiveness is Your Choice
To forgive is to love someone who has wronged you so that you no longer hold that sin against them. This is what Jesus has done for us. Our misguided search for self-fulfillment corrupts the perfect interdependent paradise that God created. God gets offended by things like that! But rather than allowing our dysfunction to destroy us all, he chose to love us. He adopted a people to live the truth and gave them the law. He sent his Son to take our sins upon himself. God chose to forgive us. We don’t have to let grudges keep us separated from people. Because God has chosen to forgive us, we as his people choose to forgive others. It’s not just a suggestion, it’s who Christians are. Christians chose to forgive. Period.
“If you forgive the failures of others, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failures. – Matthew 6:14-15 (GW)
Reconciliation is Not Forced
Once we forgive someone, our burden is lifted and we feel a freedom. However, the process is far from over. This isn’t just about our good feelings. God seeks for us to be reconciled with one another so that the relationship is restored to mutual love. So, while we can choose to forgive someone, we can’t force them to love us back or forgive us in return. But that doesn’t stop us from seeking reconciliation. In Matthew 18, Jesus details the process for seeking reconciliation with a fellow Christian. If anyone should be able to model reconciliation, it should be the ones who have been reconciled with God!
Despite our best efforts, sometimes the other person will not choose to love or forgive us. This really hurts. It’s the same pain God has for all the people on earth who won’t receive his forgiveness and turn from their sin. God never pulls back his offer to reconcile with humanity. The same should go for us. Don’t give up people. Pray that God will turn their hearts in love toward you… and him.