Thursday, November 11, 2010

The "Gospel" In Relationships?

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Christians, how do you resolve conflicts with others? Perhaps your thinking on how to resolve conflict is a mash-up of psychological "self help" strategies. Or maybe you're someone who prefers to not even think about the conflict, whenever one arises, in the hopes that it will fade away or somehow resolve itself. But neither of these methods is biblical, and neither will bring lasting - and more importantly - biblical resolution to difficult conflicts.

Dr. Ernie Baker, a certified biblical counselor, recently spoke at a weekend conference on the topic of Biblical Conflict Resolution. "The Gospel In Relationships" was a profoundly eye-opening discussion on what true, biblical, God-honoring conflict resolution looks like. Dr. Baker asked this question:
"In conflict with another person, what is your stance? Are you moving toward them in an effort to reconcile, or away from them?"
With this thought in mind, now consider this:
"Did God move toward us, or away from us, when there was a conflict between Him (a high and holy God) and us (wretched sinners without hope or merit)?"
The truth is that God himself demonstrated to us the ultimate act of "peace" in moving toward us while we were in a state of sinful rebellion against him. And understanding the implications of this truth, Dr. Baker explained, is how the Gospel can be lived out in our everyday lives.  You see, many Christians today have an understanding of the "Gospel" only as:
(1) Something that has happened in the past ("I was saved") and, 
(2) Something that will happen in the future ("Jesus's blood has secured my way to heaven")
But what about all that "in-between" time? Does the Gospel message have any relevance in our day-to-day lives? Dr. Baker explains that it does. What are some of the words that come to mind when we think of the Gospel?
- Grace
- Mercy
- Reconciliation
- Forgiveness
- Love
- Compassion
- Redemption
And yet, as Christians, we don't always connect these actions to our daily lives and personal relationships. We "compartmentalize" the Gospel as only being relevant to the relationship between God and man. And yet, shouldn't these actions also characterize our relationships with other Christians? Our undergirding thought, as guided by Scripture, ought to be this: the more we understand how merciful God has been with each one of us, the more we ought to be willing to extend mercy to a brother or a sister:
"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." (Luke 7:47)
Listen to Dr. Baker's wonderful talk in its entirety to learn how you can "live" the Gospel in your everyday life, making every effort to "be at peace with all men, so far as it depends upon you." Christians are meant to be a beacon of light to this lost and dark world. May we endeavor, by God's grace, to live a life worthy of the calling we have received. To God be the glory.


 Additional Resources 

Peacemaker Ministries (Ken Sande) 

Psychology - Just Another Broken Cistern

Conflict Resolution (Dr. Ernie Baker)

Institute For Nouthetic Studies

ACBC - Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (formerly NANC)

Psycho Babble - by Dr. Richard Ganz

Dr. Richard Ganz

The Psychologized Man (Martha Peace)

Martha Peace (Certified Biblical Counselor)