Summary: Very practical and biblical look at the way we are to handle the everyday small and large conflicts in our lives.
Every month Christianaudio.com gives away a free audiobook. Most of the time I do not get around to reading and reviewing the book before the end of the month. But this month I am on the ball and have finished it before the month is even half over.
This is one of those books that I have already recommended to a number of people. Everyone deals with conflict on a daily basis. It may be small or large, but conflict is a part of life.
One of the reviews I saw on Amazon played on the biblical phrase in its title, “Where two or more are gathered there is conflict.”
Ken Sande starts with a simple definition of conflict, “Conflict comes because we see something we think we deserve and cannot have it.”
This book then deals with why we have conflict and how we can have hope in conflict because of the gospel. This is a very overtly Christian look at conflict. In general Sande says we either escape or attack when confronted with conflict (or we alternate wildly between the two.) Instead our job as Christians (all Christians’s jobs, not just a few ‘called’) is to be peacemakers.
The majority of this book it is very practical. He briefly has a chapter on each of four steps that we need to focus on when we approach conflict.
1) We need to think about Glorifying God. This means sometimes we need to let something go, and sometimes we need to confront. But before we confront we need to focus on the next step.
2) Get the Log Out. This does not mean we should not confront others, it means we need to honestly appraise our own involvement in the situation, admit our place in it and take full responsibility.
3) We need to make sure our focus is on gently restoring the brother or sister. This is where the relationship is held in prime importance and often where the Grace vs Truth discussion comes in. We cannot forget to speak in a way that the other person will hear (as much as we have control in the situation). And we cannot gloss over the wrong. I appreciate that Sande says that it is more important to restore than get our point across. There are times when restoring means that we stop before the full extent of our pain or wrong is revealed. Because the person is already restored back to Christ. There are other times when we must share the whole extend of pain and wrong.
4) The final step is to be reconciled. This is where he spends time talking about what restoration means and the difference between forgiving and forgetting and the actual biblical purpose of reconciliation.
I am convinced that Sande is right that the best way to share the gospel is to properly handle conflict in a loving manner. As Christians, the conflict is not primarily about us, but glorifying God, so we have resources to draw on that others do not. It is also the difference in how we handle conflict that can attract others to Christ.
This may sound theoretical, but it is very practical. I think it would make a very good small group discussion. The book is short, but very content rich and virtually everyone could use more skills in conflict resolution.
- Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World by Richard Mouw
- Randy Alcorn’s The Truth and Grace Paradox: Responding with Christlike Balance
- Saying Yes to No: A Biblical Approach to Disagreement Among Christians by Patrick Webb
- The Civil War as Theological Crisis by Mark Noll
- Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions and Hurtful Acts
- Bookwi.se Reviewed Books on Disagreement Among Christians