Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How to Respond to Conflict (Part 2)

For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. 
3 John 1:10

I.      Focus On The Problem and Not the Person
As human beings we have a hard time distinguishing between the person and the problem when we find fault with something.  Sometimes, when we are losing an argument, we bring in the big guns to blow the person away by talking about their past or bringing up a weakness.  But instead of attacking the PERSON we need to address the PROBLEM.
Children who have been raised in homes where parents did not distinguish between the problem and the person in their discipline will usually seek to avoid any conflict.  These individuals are difficult to have a meaningful dialogue with because they take everything personally.  Discussion of an issue separate from their identity is nearly impossible.
Diotrephes was very JUDGMENTAL of others when they disagreed with him.  He would seek to destroy the person who viewed things differently than himself rather than discussing the issue.  John describes three ways this could be seen.
1.    First, we are told that he judged the ELDER.  He was “unjustly accusing” him.  In other words he was twisting things to make them look bad.  Listen to what scripture says about attacking an elder; “Don't listen to a complaint against a leader that isn't backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.” 1 Timothy 5:19  (MSG)
Sadly, Diotrephes was accusing John was with “wicked words.”  Anytime you throw mud you will always lose ground.  Reducing a theological argument to personal attacks is far from being “Christian” in our dealings with others.  Remember, a sharp tongue will only cut your own throat. 
2.    Second, Diotrephes judged those who were associated with John.  He would not even receive and care for missionaries from churches who associated with John.  He created an “us vs. them” problem dividing the church forcing people to take sides.  Sadly, controversies such as this are still common.  Denominations are plagued by politics and judging others by whom they associate with or demanding that they break alliances with those they disagree with if they are going to associate with them.  
3.    Third, he judged the CHURCH.  Excommunication is a term we recognize today as something done in the Catholic Church.  However, it was a common action in the early church as it defined itself.  This man felt that he held the power to determine who would be allowed in the church.  Possibly he missed the words of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1 (NIV)
John brings this man’s actions into the light where the congregation can deal with him.  Out of the back room politics and into the open what he has done will not stand.  We should be aware that God is not pleased when we build alliances of believers and attack one another.  Gossip and slander are Satan’s tools to destroy the body of Christ.  When conflict arises, stick to the issue and don’t fall for Satan’s schemes to divide the church.  Beware of Diotrephes!

Scripture to Claim:
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.  Romans 14:13 (NIV)

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