God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
– Psalm 46:1-3
Wherever you turn there is conflict. Familial conflict, conflict at work, in the church, in the political arena etc. There is no escaping conflict. We live in a world that seems to even delight in conflict. Think of the most recent news headlines you have watched or take a look at your social media feed. Conflict is constantly being leveraged to grab our attention and to get us to join in the fray. From a biblical standpoint we could say that we are living in an apocalyptic time. Interestingly the Greek word that apocalypse comes from means, “uncovering or unveiling what was always there”. We may think that the current state of conflict is new or more exacerbated that at other times in history. After all, we have seen the rapid advancement of technology combined with a global pandemic that isolated people from one another, further exacerbating the individualistic echo chamber that has consumed our society. Add to that the uncertainty of artificial intelligence and the explosive geopolitical landscape and it seems like we are living in unprecedented times. However, conflict has always been with us and much of the conflict that we are currently witnessing has been bubbling below the surface for many years. The events and shifts we have witnessed in the past few years have simply uncovered or revealed existing conflicts.
How should the church respond to conflict? More specifically, how should we respond to conflicts within the church? After all, if the church is functioning as God intended, it serves as an antidote to the conflicts in the world as Christ is manifested through His church.
What is it that God wants us to do as a church when we are overcome and overwhelmed by conflict? What does God desire for us to do in the midst of crisis? Webster’s dictionary defines crisis as “the point of time when it is to be decided whether any affair or course of action must go on, be modified, or terminated; the decisive moment; the turning point. ”
Time and again in the Bible conflict turns into a crisis and yet God works in the crisis to bring about something far greater and better than anyone involved thought possible. Our default when we face a crisis is to retreat, to return to what we know, to wish for things to go back to normal. However, God does not want us to go back. He wants us to move forward. Crises are used by God as catalysts to move His people to where He desires them to be.
The key to responding to a crisis well is to have a repentant mind set. Repentance is usually thought of as the confession of a wrong done. However, repentance as defined in the Bible has a much deeper meaning.
Biblical repentance is:
REORIENTING YOUR LIFE
This implies a turning. For the Christian this means continually turning back to God. When your eyes drift from Jesus (Heb. 12:2), you turn them back to Him.
REFRAMING YOUR PERSPECTIVE
This means looking at things with a heavenly perspective. It is a paradigm shift.
RESPONDING TO GOD IN OBEDIENCE
Having a repentant heart results in a desire to obey God and bring Him glory motivated by a deep and abiding love.
If we want to have a closer relationship with God, we must be repentant. Repentance breaks down any idols in our lives. It keeps us from getting too attached to the familiar and status quo. It prevents tradition from becoming traditionalism. Repentance helps us to have a right view of God. So often we put God in a box or reshape Him into something that He is not. We often do this to feel better about ourselves or to even justify our sin and selfishness. Having a repentant mindset protects us from creating a warped view of God, as we now own our wrong views of Him. Our minds are being renewed in His Word which results in us rethinking our understanding of Him. We are now listening to the Holy Spirit and responding to Him with obedience.
An attitude of repentance means that one is open and willing to unlearn, relearn, and realign around Jesus Christ by getting into alignment with Him and His will. As the church, we must embrace this attitude of repentance. If we are going to see the Kingdom of God advanced, we must be attuned to His voice and aligned to His will. We must be willing to change, to try new things, to own past failures, to confess wrong ideologies, and release traditionalism. God’s mission for His church is too important to be content at staying where we are. We must move forward in faith, confident that despite the conflicts and crises we face, our God is sovereign. We must trust Him and release our fears, worries, and comforts and let the Holy Spirit have His way in us. If we do, we will be amazed at what our God will do in and through His church.
“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” – Albert Einstein
Written by Sam McKeen