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Create a response letter or email incorporating the ideas from your reading in the Peacemakers text.


The student will complete 4 Discussions in this course. The student will post one thread of at least 300 words by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Thursday of the assigned Module: Week. The student must then post 3 replies of at least 100 words by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Sunday of the assigned Module: Week. Each of the three replies should include at least one footnote or citation. Any sources cited must have been published within the last five years. Quotations usually should comprise of 10% or less of the total word count. Acceptable sources include the textbook, the Bible, etc.

LEAD 610

Discussion Assignment Instructions

The student will complete 4 Discussions in this course. The student will post one thread of at least 300 words by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Thursday of the assigned Module: Week. The student must then post 3 replies of at least 100 words by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Sunday of the assigned Module: Week. Each of the three replies should include at least one footnote or citation. Any sources cited must have been published within the last five years. Quotations usually should comprise of 10% or less of the total word count. Acceptable sources include the textbook, the Bible, etc.

Post-First: This course utilizes the Post-First feature in all Discussions. This means you will only be able to read and interact with your classmates’ threads after you have submitted your thread in response to the provided prompt.

Discussion Below:

After reviewing the Read: Case Studies document in the Learn section, post a thread providing your response to 1 of the 4 case studies:

Missions Meltdown

Birthday Tug-a-War

Threatening Trustee

Church Library

Create a response letter or email incorporating the ideas from your reading in the Peacemakers text. Text is under Case Study ("Dear ___, After hearing your situation. . ") .

Case Study #4 – The Church Library

Imagine that just after your church’s worship service you walk over to greet two of your friends. When you realize that they are involved in an intense discussion, you turn away. But one of them notices you and grabs your arm, saying, “Don’t go away! We need your advice.”

Chris goes on to say, “You know that Pastor asked us to come up with a plan for the interior of our new library. Well, Terry and I both have our own ideas and we really see things differently. The dedication is less than a month away and we still don’t know what we’re going to do.

“I think that a church library should be warm and welcoming. We should have colors that are calm and contemplative––a traditional look, if you know what I mean. We’ve already got comfortable leather chairs and sofas. We can buy some additional reading lamps and make this a place where people can think and be quiet.

“I was also thinking that we should hang photos of all our former senior pastors on the wall – you know, to really connect us with our roots and our Christian heritage. If we don’t remember where we’ve come from, how can we know where we should go?”

When Chris pauses to take a breath, Terry speaks up. “I certainly agree that we shouldn’t ignore our heritage. But, it doesn’t do us any good to have a library that nobody uses. That was the problem with the old one. It was dark and uninviting, so it didn’t get much use. All those wonderful books just sat there, collecting dust.

“The whole reason for the remodel is to get people to use the library! If we’re going to get people to give it a try, it needs to be more than a comfortable place to think. It has to say, ‘This is where things are happening!’ We need to have bright, bold colors––the sort of look that grabs people’s attention and makes them want to check it out.”

Terry looks at Chris. “I’m all for comfortable chairs and sofas. In fact, I like our overstuffed leather furniture, but a lot of folks use them just to nap between Sunday school and worship. We can get a great deal on some modern, functional and comfortable stuff. We need a look that wakes people up.

“And I don’t think photos of our former pastors will draw people in. It would be much better to use the wall space for posters or for drawings that our children do––things that are bright and cheerful, that people enjoy looking at.”

You realize that both of your friends are looking at you now. Having voiced their conflicting opinions, they clearly expect a Solomon-like decision. What could you do or say that would help them resolve their differences in a wise and biblical manner?

Peacemaker Text Below:

Part 3

Gently Restore

How can I lovingly serve others by helping them take responsibility for their contribution to this conflict?

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.

Galatians 6:1

Janet waited patiently for all of Larry’s students to file through the door. When she saw that he was finished with his work and placing papers into his briefcase, she walked casually into his classroom.

Giving him a friendly smile, she asked, “Larry, do you have a few minutes to talk?”

Larry looked up, his eyes filled with suspicion. “I’m pretty busy right now. What do you want to talk about?”

“I’d like to ask your forgiveness for the way I spoke to you last week and talk about how we are relating to each other, but if this isn’t a convenient time, I could come back later.”

His surprised look showed that this was not what he was expecting to hear from Janet. “No, that’s OK. I’ve got a few minutes.”

“Thanks. Well, like I said, I need to ask your forgiveness for what I said in the teachers’ lounge last Wednesday. When you joked about me in front of Steve and Joyce, I lost my temper and lashed back at you. I was wrong, and I’m sure I embarrassed you. Would you please forgive me?”

Taken off guard by her transparency, all he could think to say was, “That’s OK. I know I can be sort of abrasive at times. Just forget about it.”

“Forgetting can take a long time. I’d appreciate it if you would say you forgive me.”

“Sure, whatever. I forgive you. Let’s just drop it.”

Janet had been planning this conversation for days with the help of a trained reconciler in her church. They had anticipated that Larry might try to brush their differences aside, so they had role-played how to keep the conversation going. Janet now put that planning into practice.

“Since I blew up at you in front of Steve and Joyce, I want you to know that I plan to go to them and admit I was wrong. Is there anything else I can do to make this right with you? Anything else I’ve done to offend you?”

“No,” he responded, “not that I can think of.”

“Maybe you can help me understand something. If I haven’t done anything else to offend you, why do you say sarcastic things about me in front of others?”

“Hey, I’m just kidding around. Can’t you take a joke?”

“Maybe you don’t mean to hurt me, but it doesn’t feel like a joke, Larry. It’s embarrassing to be made fun of in front of the people I work with every day. I don’t think they find it funny either. And I don’t think I’m the only person who’s staying clear of the teachers’ lounge just to avoid your jokes.”

“Oh, so now I’m the big bad wolf,” he responded sarcastically. “And all the little pigs need to run home to hide!”

“That’s just what I mean, Larry. You seem to have a habit of calling people names and tearing them down. It’s not a good example for our students. And I’m sorry to say that I’ve overheard some of the staff mocking your faith behind your back. Do you know what they’re saying?”

Larry didn’t actually want to know, but he felt compelled to say, “What?”

“They’re calling you a hypocrite, Larry. They can’t understand how you can claim to be a Christian and yet speak so critically all the time.”

Larry cringed at Janet’s words, and he began looking for a way to end the conversation. Before he could speak, however, Janet spoke gently.

“I don’t think you mean to do it. I believe you want to have a positive witness, but it seems like you’re stuck in the habit of saying hurtful things to people. I’ve struggled with the same problem, Larry. I’ve hurt so many people with my words. Just ask my family! But God is so forgiving. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. And he wants to free us from our hurtful habits. He doesn’t want you and me fighting with each other. He would be so pleased if we forgave each other and worked together to improve our relationship and our witness around here.”

Larry had never been approached like this in his life. The truth in Janet’s words stung, but her tone of voice and her reminder of God’s forgiveness held out a glimmer of hope. He slumped in his chair and sighed with weariness and regret.

“I don’t deserve your forgiveness,” he said. “I’ve torn you apart all year, just like everyone else. I’ve always used sarcasm when I don’t know how to relate to people. I go home night after night knowing I blew it, but I just can’t seem to change. Is there really hope for a jerk like me?”

“Of course there is!” Janet replied as she pulled up a chair across from Larry’s desk. “If God can help me get control of my tongue, he can help anyone. Let’s pray right now and ask him to show us how we can turn our past differences into an opportunity to demonstrate his power in our lives.”

Talking to other people about a conflict is usually an unpleasant experience. We often let tensions build to the exploding point and then confront people with a list of their wrongs. They become defensive and react with a list of our wrongs, which leads to a painful battle of words. Those who are more verbally skilled may win a few arguments this way, but in the process they lose many important relationships.

The gospel opens the door for an entirely different approach to talking to others about their role in a conflict. Remembering God’s mercy toward us, we can approach others in a spirit of love rather than condemnation. And instead of using guilt and shame to force others to change themselves, we can breathe grace by holding out to them the wonderful news that God wants to free them from sin and help them grow to be like his Son.

There are many helpful communication skills we can learn as well; these enable us to listen more carefully and speak more clearly and graciously. Godly communication usually leads to better understanding and agreement. As your words are seasoned with wisdom and grace, talking to others about their wrongs can become an avenue for strengthening relationships, serving other people, and bringing praise to God.


Just between the Two of You

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.

Matthew 18:15

Conflict presents unique opportunities to serve other people. When others are weighed down with problems and stress, God will sometimes use us to encourage them and help carry their burdens. In other situations, we may be able to give helpful advice, provide a positive example, or suggest creative solutions to problems. Best of all, conflict can provide the opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ and give witness to the gospel, even to people who are attacking us.

One of the most challenging ways to serve others in the midst of conflict is to help them see where they have been wrong and need to change. Although many offenses can and should be overlooked, some problems are so harmful that they must be discussed. In this chapter we will explore some basic guidelines on when and how you should go and talk privately to another person about his or her contribution to a conflict.

Restoring Means More than Confronting

When Christians think about talking to someone else about a conflict, one of the first verses that comes to mind is Matthew 18:15: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.” If this verse is read in isolation, it seems to teach that we must always use direct confrontation to force others to admit they have sinned. If the verse is read in context, however, we see that Jesus had something much more flexible and beneficial in mind than simply standing toe to toe with others and describing their sins.

Just before this passage, we find Jesus’ wonderful metaphor of a loving shepherd who goes to look for a wandering sheep and then rejoices when it is found (Matt. 18:12–14). Thus, Matthew 18:15 is introduced with a theme of restoration, not condemnation. Jesus repeats this theme just after telling us to “go and show him his fault” by adding, “If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” And then he hits the restoration theme a third time in verses 21–35, where he uses the parable of the unmerciful servant to remind us to be as merciful and forgiving to others as God is to us (Matt. 18:21–35).

Jesus is clearly calling for something much more loving and redemptive than simply confronting others with a list of their wrongs. He wants us to remember and imitate his shepherd love for us—to seek after others to help them turn from sin and be restored to God and those they have offended. This restoration theme is echoed throughout Scripture, as we are urged to “help,” “restore,” “save,” and “forgive” those who are caught in sin (see 1 Thess. 5:14; Gal. 6:1; James 5:20).

Although this restoration process may sometimes require direct confrontation, the Bible teaches that there are often better ways to approach people regarding their wrongs. In fact, Scripture rarely uses words we would translate as “confront” to describe the process of talking to others about their faults. Instead, it calls us to use a wide spectrum of activities to minister to others, including confessing, teaching, instructing, reasoning with, showing, encouraging, correcting, warning, admonishing, or rebuking (Matt. 5:23–24; Luke 17:3; Acts 17:17; 1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Tim. 2:24; 4:2). God wants us to adjust the intensity of our communication to fit the other person’s position and the urgency of the situation (1 Tim. 5:1; Titus 1:13). We are also warned not to let disagreements with others degenerate into quarreling, arguing, or foolish controversies (Phil. 2:14; 2 Tim. 2:23–24; Titus 3:9). Clearly, there is more to restoring others than simply confronting them with their wrongs. Therefore, if we want to be effective as peacemakers, we need to ask God to help us be discerning and flexible so that we can use whatever approach will be most effective in a given situation.

We should also note that Scripture provides numerous favorable examples of approaching others indirectly instead of bluntly describing their wrongs. Jesus did not directly confront the Samaritan woman at the well about living in adultery. Instead, he approached the issue indirectly by using questions and discussion that engaged her in the process of thinking about and assessing her own life (John 4:1–18). Jesus frequently used parables and stories as roundabout ways to help people see their sins (see, e.g., Matt. 21:33–45; Luke 15). The apostle Paul could be similarly indirect. Instead of hitting the Athenians head-on with their idolatry, he first engaged them on a point of common interest and moved gradually into the good news of the one true God (Acts 17:22–31). Esther may have the record for the indirect approach, taking two days and two banquets to get to the point of telling the king about the injustice of his decree to kill all of the Jews (Esther 5–7).

As these and many similar passages indicate, we need to let go of the idea that showing someone his fault always requires direct confrontation. Although that approach will be appropriate in some situations, we should never do it automatically. Instead, we should ask God to help us discern the most winsome and effective way to approach a particular person at a particular time and to open the way for genuine reconciliation. (In the next chapter we will look more closely at how to approach people indirectly using stories and metaphors.)

Sooner or Later, Face-to-Face

Matthew 18:15–20 is understood by some people to require that we must always talk personally and privately with someone who has offended us before we can ask others to get involved in the situation. The Bible clearly commends face-to-face meetings as an important step in reconciling people, but it does not teach that this is the only way to begin a reconciliation process. In fact, it is sometimes better to involve other people in resolving a conflict before trying to meet personally with someone who has wronged you. These people may act as neutral intermediaries who shuttle between you and the other person or as representatives who initially speak for you in joint meetings.

For example, before Jacob met his brother Esau in person he sent servants and gifts on ahead to set the stage for a friendly encounter (Genesis 32–33). When Joseph’s brothers feared that he would finally take revenge on them for their sins against him, they sent someone to speak on their behalf to appeal to Joseph for mercy (Gen. 50:15–16). Abigail intervened between her husband and an enraged David and was highly commended for her initiative and wisdom (1 Sam. 25:18–35). When David was estranged from his son Absalom, Joab enlisted a Jewish woman to approach the king to soften his heart toward his son (2 Sam. 14:1–23). Similarly, when the apostles would not meet with Paul after his conversion, Barnabas intervened to speak on Paul’s behalf and appeal for reconciliation (Acts 9:26–27).

As these stories indicate, there are many biblically legitimate ways to approach someone with whom we have a conflict. Personal conversations are often best, but in some cases involving other people right away will be even better. There are several situations in which this may be true today:

When you are dealing with a person who comes from a culture or tradition in which it is customary to resolve problems through intermediaries such as family representatives or trusted leaders

When going to someone personally and privately is likely to make them lose face in the sight of others

When either of the parties might feel intimidated by the other person, perhaps because of a difference in verbal skills or differing positions of authority or influence

When one person was abused by the other and there is a possibility that the abuser will use a private conversation to manipulate or silence the person who has been abused

When there is a third party who has a much closer relationship than you do with the person who may be caught in sin, and that third party is willing to raise the issue with the offender

Whatever the situation might be, we should always show respect for the concerns, traditions, limitations, and special needs of others and ask God to show us how to communicate with them in the way that is most appropriate and helpful to them (Phil. 2:3–4).

However, whether we begin with a private meeting or work through intermediaries, we must not let personal preferences or cultural traditions divert us from seeking genuine reconciliation, which requires a sincere expression and confirmation of confession and forgiveness. Although in unusual situations this might conceivably take place without a personal meeting between the parties (e.g., cases of child abuse), the Bible teaches that a face-to-face meeting is usually essential to genuine reconciliation. This principle is presented in three ways in the Bible.

First, many of the passages related to restoring relationships clearly contemplate a direct conversation between the conflicting parties (see Matt. 5:23–24; 18:15; Luke 17:3). Second, Scripture provides many examples of marvelous reconciliation that came about after personal meetings between people who had wronged each other, including Jacob and Esau (Gen. 33:6–12), Joseph and his brothers (45:1–5; 50:15–21), and Paul and the apostles (Acts 9:27–28). Third, the Bible also gives examples of disastrous results when the involvement of intermediaries allowed the parties to delay or avoid personal meetings involving genuine confession and forgiveness.

Perhaps the most tragic illustration of a failed reconciliation is that of David and Absalom. After Absalom killed his own brother, Joab was able to negotiate a pardon from the king that allowed Absalom to return to Jerusalem. But then Joab made a fatal mistake. When David said, “[Absalom] must go to his own house; he must not see my face” (2 Sam. 14:24), Joab failed to urge the king to see his son and be reconciled to him immediately. This prolonged estrangement embittered Absalom toward his father (14:28–32) and eventually led to a rebellion that resulted in thousands of deaths (2 Samuel 15–18). A similar tragedy unfolds in Genesis 34 when Shechem’s father mediates a superficial agreement but fails to urge Shechem to confess his wrongs personally to Dinah, Jacob, and Jacob’s sons. Jacob’s sons fail to forgive Shechem and later slaughter his entire city.

These stories illustrate a key element of God’s design for human relationships. God does not intend for people to relate to one another at a distance or through other people. Genuine relationship involves personal communication. As Exodus 33:11 says, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (see also 2 John 12). If this is the ideal for a true friendship, it is also the ideal for a relationship that has been broken by conflict and needs to be restored. Although other people can sometimes help get the restoration process started, its ultimate goal should usually be a personal, face-to-face meeting between those who have been estranged, so they can express and confirm repentance, confession, and forgiveness and experience together the grace and reconciliation of God.

If Someone Has Something against You

If you learn that someone has something against you, God wants you to take the initiative in seeking peace—even if you do not believe you have done anything wrong. If you believe that another person’s complaints against you are unfounded or that the misunderstanding is entirely the other person’s fault, you may naturally conclude that you have no responsibility to take the initiative in restoring peace. This is a common conclusion, but it is false, for it is contrary to Jesus’ specific teaching in Matthew 5:23–24: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Note that this command is not limited to situations where the other person has something justifiable against you. Jesus said to be reconciled if your brother has something against you, implying that the obligation exists whether or not you believe his complaint is legitimate.

There are several reasons why you should initiate reconciliation even if you do not believe you are at fault. Most importantly, Jesus commands you to go. Also, as I explained previously, peace and unity among believers significantly affects how others will receive the gospel. Seeking peace with an alienated brother enhances your Christian witness, especially if he is the one who has done the wrong (Luke 6:32–36).

In addition, you can have greater peace of mind if you have honestly faced any complaints someone might have against you. Only by carefully listening to others can you discover sins of which you were not aware or help others realize that their complaints are unfounded. Either way, you will gain a clear conscience, which is an essential ingredient of internal peace and a close relationship with God.

Finally, you should initiate reconciliation out of love for your brother and concern for his well-being. Just before Jesus’ command to seek reconciliation, he warned of the danger of unresolved anger: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.… anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matt. 5:21–22).

Bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness are serious sins in God’s eyes. If your brother indulges in these feelings, they will separate him from God and expose him to judgment (Eph. 4:30–31; cf. Isa. 59:1–2). In addition, these sinful feelings can eat away at your brother’s heart like an acid and leave him spiritually, emotionally, and physically scarred (Ps. 32:1–5; 73:21–22; Prov. 14:30). This damage can occur even if someone is mistaken in believing you have done something wrong. Therefore, you should go to the person out of love and do everything within your power to resolve the matter. This may require either confessing your own wrongs or helping the other person realize there is no basis for the complaint. Although you cannot force someone to change his or her mind about you, you can make every effort to “live at peace” by clearing up misunderstandings and removing obstacles to reconciliation (Rom. 12:18; cf. 14:13–19). This may require repeated attempts and great patience, but the benefit to both of you makes it well worth the effort.

I recall one Sunday when I visited a small ranching community and preached a message on Matthew 5:21–24. After church a friend took me out to lunch. Part way through our meal, a man I had seen in church that morning walked into the restaurant. Seeing me, he came over to our table, smiling with delight.

“I have to tell you what just happened!” he said. “Your sermon really shook me up, because I’ve got a neighbor who hasn’t talked to me for two years. We had an argument about where to run a fence. When I wouldn’t move it to where he thought it should be, he just turned his back on me and stomped away. Since I thought I was in the right, I’ve always figured it was up to him to make the first move at being friends again. This morning I saw that the Lord wants me to be the one to seek reconciliation, so right after church I drove over to his house to talk with him. I told him I was sorry for being so stubborn two years ago and that I wanted to be friends again. He just about fell over. He said he felt bad all along for stomping away that day, but he didn’t know how to come talk with me. Man, was he glad I came to talk with him!”

When Someone’s Sins Are Too Serious to Overlook

God also calls you to go and talk to someone about a conflict if that person’s sins are too serious to overlook. This is why Jesus said, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). It is sometimes difficult to decide whether another person’s sin is so serious that you need to go and talk about it. Below are a few of the situations that may warrant this kind of attention.

As discussed earlier, there may be some situations in which it is best to work initially through intermediaries who have a closer relationship with the other person. It is generally best to keep these kinds of discussions as private as possible, however, so the other person is spared embarrassment. Therefore, in the following discussion, I will focus primarily on the situation where you are in a position to approach the other individual personally and privately.

Is It Dishonoring God?

Sin is too serious to overlook if it is likely to bring significant dishonor to God (see, e.g., Matt. 21:12–13; Rom. 2:23–24). If someone who professes to be a Christian is behaving in such a way that others are likely to think less of God, of his church, or of his Word, it may be necessary to talk with that person and urge him to change his behavior. This doesn’t mean that we should call attention to every minor offense, for God himself is patient and forbearing with much of what we do wrong. But when someone’s sin becomes visible enough to obviously and significantly affect a Christian’s witness, it needs to be addressed.

Is It Damaging Your Relationship?

You should also go and talk about offenses that are damaging your relationship with another person. If you are unable to forgive an offense—that is, if your feelings, thoughts, words, or actions toward another person have been altered for more than a short period of time—the offense is probably too serious to overlook. Even minor wrongdoing can damage a relationship if it is repeated. Although something minor may be easily forgiven the first few times, frustration and resentment can eventually build up. When this happens, it may be necessary to bring the matter to the other person’s attention so that the offensive pattern can be changed.

Is It Hurting Others?

An offense or disagreement is also too serious to overlook when it results in significant harm to you or others. This can happen in various ways. The offender may be hurting or imperiling others in a direct way (e.g., child abuse or drunk driving). The person may also be setting an example that will encourage other Christians to behave in a similar manner. Knowing that “a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough,” Paul commands Christians to address serious and open sin quickly and firmly to save other believers from being led astray (1 Cor. 5:1–13; cf. 2 Tim. 4:2–4; Prov. 10:17). An offense can also adversely affect others if it is made public and other Christians take sides. When the peace and unity of the church are threatened in this way, the underlying problem needs to be addressed before it causes serious division (Titus 3:10).

Is It Hurting the Offender?

Finally, sin needs to be addressed when it is seriously harming the offender, either by direct damage (e.g., alcohol abuse) or by impairing his or her relationship with God or other people. Looking out for the well-being of other Christians, especially those in your own family or congregation, is a serious responsibility. Unfortunately, because many Christians have adopted the world’s view that everyone should be allowed to “do hi

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