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Mar 10

Peacemaker Ministries Session Recap: Rick Friesen, “Handling Everyday Conflict”

2012 | by Tim Bradley | Category: Clarus 12

Editor’s Note: Tim Bradley is Pastor for Biblical Counseling and Family Ministry at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, NM. This post is a summary of Rick Friesen’s message, Resolving Everyday Conflict,” from Saturday afternoon, March 10, representing Peacemaker Ministries.

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This year at the Clarus conference, we were blessed to have a special session with Rick Friesen from Peacemaker Ministries. The mission of Peacemaker Ministries is to equip and assist Christians and the church to respond to conflict biblically. The ministry says, “As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict (Matthew 5:9, Luke 6:27-36, Galatians 5:19-26).”

As Rick began his session he stated that he wanted to introduce change into our view of conflict. He helped us to understand on the one hand, that conflict is a part of our lives, and many times we are not aware of it. Sometimes there are blinders on to the reality of conflict within our relationships and churches. But, he also helped us to see that sometimes we simply accept conflict as a part of life that is going to be there, so we don’t pursue biblical reconciliation and peace. Rick showed us that conflict is a part of our lives as a result of sin, and that God, having reconciled us to Himself, also wants us to be reconciled in our relationships with one another. He said, “So many times we say, ‘I’m reconciled to God, but not with my brother’ as if this is ok, but that it is not ok.” He asserts that as Christians, by the grace of God, we can begin to repair and heal the brokenness of conflict.

Peacemaker’s says, “We believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ (Romans 8:28-29, 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1, James 1:2-4, Philippians 2:3-4). This begins to get at the heart of their purpose to help change our view of conflict.  Do you normally think of the word “opportunity” connected to conflict? Is your desire in conflict to love God, love others and grow in grace?  Or in contrast, does your desire in conflict center upon what you want?

James 4 helps us to understand that our conflicts with one another are rooted in desires that become so important to us that our desire to glorify God, serve others, and grow in grace disappear, and we are willing to fight and quarrel in order to obtain what we want. This is what Rick described as an idol, and he said this desire (idol) goes through a progression over time. Sometimes this progression happens quickly, and with some desires it happens more slowly over time. This progression starts with desire, then a desire begins to morph into a need, and then a demand, next it becomes an expectation, and if unmet, a disappointment, and if we’re disappointed we judge the other person, and punish them. This progression is one that takes place in our hearts, is focused on self, opposes God, and yields conflict in our relationship with others. At its essence, this desire, even a good desire, becomes so important that we are willing to sin in order to obtain it.

Rick asked, “Where is God in this situation?” We have a tendency to only view things horizontally, and forget about God’s desire for us in a given conflict. In fact, we forget God, and that we are His ambassadors. We forget to seek to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31), we forget to face and deal with our own sin (Matthew 7:1-5), and we forget to seek peace in our relationships through restoration and reconciliation (Galatians 6:1, Matthew 5:23-24).

Finally, Rick asks, “How does the gospel make a difference in our relationships?” How does it transform our conflict from a moment of self-focused idolatry into an opportunity for God-exalting grace and love? First, remember who God is. Remember His benevolent, merciful, saving grace in your life. Remember you are His child and ambassador. Remember that other Christians are also His beloved sons and daughters. And remember that unbelievers are image bearers of God and need His grace and salvation. Remember the gospel, and let it transform your conflict into opportunities to see God glorified in his church as our relationships healed and restored.