One of the pearls I’ve gained from a recent conference on conflict resolution sponsored by Ambassadors of Reconciliation is that conflict—when it is appropriately dealt with as a means for glorifying God, serving our neighbors, and growing as disciples of Christ—actually offers us the chance to testify to God. Conflict isn't always best avoided. At times, if it is acknowledged and worked through, it brings a new appreciation for unity in Christ that is supremely counter-cultural.
Consider the example of the small-town church where a member of the church’s Board of Directors was caught embezzling church funds. The story was printed in the local paper. It got revved up in the rumor mill of the town. Incontrovertible evidence that Christians say they should live one way but actually live another was there, for all to see. But after mediation coaching and focus on the reconciling work of Jesus Christ…after many days of hard work searching the Scriptures and seeking God’s will in these events…a miracle happened. The man who had deceived his brothers and sisters in Christ confessed his sin before the entire congregation, and by the power of the Spirit the congregation pronounced absolution over him. Though he had told everyone present that day that this would be his last Sunday…that he no longer had any right to worship with them anymore…one by one the people of that congregation stood up and said, “No…we want you back again.” There was hardly a dry eye anywhere that day as this family of believers gathered in Holy Communion to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Though the familiar evidence of human sin—even in the Church!—was plain for this town to see, the work of Christ and the Spirit of God moved the hearts of all involved to experience unity as a gift of God’s mercy in the midst of this conflict.
Mother’s Day is a day of thanksgiving for our Moms and the gift of our families. Perhaps it is also a day of mixed emotions…for those who have lost a child or who have said goodbye to a parent called home to heaven, Mother’s Day is an opportunity for quiet reflection. Family is a gift, but even the best families find themselves at times feeling broken. The risen and ascended Lord Jesus brings rescue. The life of Jesus, laid down for our sins, reconciles us to God to one another in spite of our brokenness. Forgiveness in Christ, a preview of the fruit we will receive from the tree of life in heaven one day, gives us Life that is miraculous and counter-cultural. We gather for the Feast at the table of the Lord, that we might eat and live.