Go with Peace

by Joe Johns
Thanks for joining in for part 3 of this series on learning how to resolve conflict. Be sure to catch up on the previous posts here.

Jesus calls peacemakers blessed and Paul demonstrates this blessed way to approach conflict in Philippians 4 where we read…

2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:2-6)

Let’s focus in on verses 6-7 where we see another step for engaging conflict emerge.

Step #3: Go with Peace.

Few people love conflict. Honestly, I’m a bit suspicious of anyone who looks forward to a fight. Most people would rather avoid it altogether if possible.

Such was the code in my family when I was growing up. Conflicts were rarely addressed head-on and outright. The normal pattern in our household was to avoid addressing conflict in the hope it might (magically) resolve itself.

But Paul’s teaching to Euodia, Syntyche, and anyone else in conflict completely takes our natural tendency to avoid conflict into account. He knows and understands our initial reaction to conflict. Our heart rate rises, or we have a sinking feeling in the pit of our gut. Sometimes, just the thought of having to deal with conflict can make us ill.

So, it is wise counsel for Paul to exhort us to not be anxious in our conflicts. He knows the anxiety that the conflict produces in us will be counter-productive to helping resolve it. Peacemakers know that we must own and address our own anxiety about the conflict first or else this negative energy will leak out and be unhelpful to the resolution process.

Peacemakers know that we must own and address our own anxiety about the conflict first or else this negative energy will leak out and be unhelpful to the resolution process.

Though this may be easier said than done, we are not without help or actions to take.

…in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (verse 6)

In every conflict, we can and must bring it to the Lord in prayer. Instead of first, or only, going to others for counsel, we must be committed to seeking the Lord’s through prayer.

What kind of prayer, you ask?

The kind that right-sizes the conflict before him. It acknowledges (petitions) how the conflict makes us feel and confesses our need for him to help us resolve it. But at the same time, it’s not a bummer prayer in which we endlessly rehearse how bad it feels and helpless we are. No.

Instead, we pray with thanksgiving as well; thanking God for things we have appreciated in the other person, or thanking God for the way he will use the negative moment for something good in us. This kind of prayer is a way of keeping people bigger than the problem.

Again, it’s not easy to pray this way. But neither is it impossible. In fact, if we persist in submitting the conflict before the Lord in prayer with thanksgiving, something amazing can happen.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Imagine being in the midst of a conflict and being at peace within yourself. What if your anger or insecurity were held in check? Consider what could happen in the conflict if you didn’t feel the need to justify yourself or heavily market your version of events? Chances are the conflict may find new ways to constructively resolve.

As you survey the relational landscape around you, how can you take a step to Go in Peace today toward a conflicted relationship?

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