Are you struggling with feelings that are resentful and bitter against someone? Do you have unresolved conflict in a relationship with another believer, an in-law, or a brother or sister?
Maybe it’s someone you did business with. Maybe you were in a small group with them. It could have been two months ago, two years ago, or 20 years ago.
But God wants to deal with it. The conflict we have with one another – and so often divides us – actually matters to God.
In John 17, before Jesus is arrested and crucified, He prays,
“Father, make them one even as We are One. You in Me and I in You and Us in them. Father, I pray that as I leave, that You would cause there to be a supernatural unity in order that the world would know.”
Jesus prays this passionately and commands us to love one another because He knows the validity of the gospel is based on whether the world sees Christians loving each other.
In Philippians 2:1-4, the Apostle Paul says,
“Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion…
Here’s the command:
…then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
These Philippian Christians – just like Paul – were being persecuted. They were having struggles and conflicts that mirrored those happening in the pagan world. But in this particular church, the conflict had to do with a few women who were causing a rift throughout the church.
We’ve all seen this type of conflict today in our churches, either in a small group or Sunday school class, right?
This is why Paul says,
“You have brought me great joy when you came to Christ. Now, make my joy complete.”
How are we to do this? By having authentic, Christ-empowered unity. In other words, don’t just “put up with each other.” Our unity can’t be superficial; it must be from the heart.
This means resolving our conflicts, forgiving one another, and caring for one another in the same way Christ loves us: with comfort, tenderness, and compassion.
Basically, Paul tells us to follow the platinum rule: Do unto others as God has already done unto you.
The truth is, we tend to approach our conflicts with a quid pro-quo attitude. We think, “Well, so and so did this to me, so I have every right to treat them the same way, right?”
But God doesn’t want us to treat people that way. The basis of loving people shouldn’t be how they have treated us – good or bad. The basis of our love should be choice. No matter how people treat us, we should – and can – choose to love.
And the basis of our choice to love is how God has loved us.
He has encouraged us. He has come alongside us and forgiven us. He has been tenderhearted toward us. He has chosen to love us even when we were His enemies.
So, who you do you need to be reconciled with today? Ask God to help you through the power of His Spirit to choose to love this person the way He loves you.
To learn more about how we’re to love one another and build relationships that last, check out Chip’s series I Choose Love.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip