To our 9:00 am Shabbat Ark of Prayer and the Mishpacha within,
This week’s parsha is Acharei Mot: Leviticus 16:1-18:30, Ezekiel 20:1-20, Hebrews 9:11-28
G-d speaks in the Torah about atonement for our sins, the importance, use and significance of blood and forbidden sexual practices.
Since the general topic is G-d’s direction about atonement, I’ve decided to take a step sideways and talk about conflict resolution between people and specifically within a community of faith like TAJ.
Typically I make a point to not listen to anyone complaining about other people unless they are speaking to me confidentially and actively looking for a way to resolve the conflict. If they are just complaining, I will usually cut them off and offer to help them resolve the conflict with that person.
If they are unwilling to resolve it but only want to complain (gossip) then our conversation ends with, “I’m sorry, I can see you are upset, but this is gossip which G-d describes as preventing us being in His presence for eternity. I can not listen to this anymore but please let me know if I can help you take steps to resolve this.”
Here is why I take such strong action and why I encourage you to do the same.
Conflict resolution in the body of Yeshua is crucial for several reasons. Avoidance of conflict, with no effort to resolve it, postpones a proper response and exacerbates the problem because conflicts that are allowed to fester unaddressed will always increase and have negative effects on relationships within the body.
The goal of conflict resolution is unity, and unity in the congregation poses a threat to the devil who will use every opportunity to take advantage of unresolved issues, especially those involving anger, bitterness, self-pity and envy. These emotions are the basis for most of our congregation conflicts.
There are two places in the B'rit Chadashah that clearly and unambiguously address conflict resolution where sin is involved. In Matthew 18:15-17, Yeshua gives the steps for dealing with a sinning brother.
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
According to this passage, in the event of conflict involving overt sin, we are to,
1) address it one-on-one first, then
2) if still unresolved, it should be taken to a small group, and finally,
3) before the whole church if the problem still remains.
The other passage where this is addressed explicitly is Luke 17: 3-4. An essential part of conflict resolution, according to this passage, is forgiveness. Any kind of disciplinary procedure should always have restoration of the sinning person as the ultimate goal.
If the matter is relatively minor, it may be that the best thing to do is to overlook the offense if you can do so without resentment or anger (Proverbs 19:11). If it cannot be overlooked, one must pursue reconciliation.
This is such an important issue to G-d that peace with Him and peace with others are inextricably entwined. We cannot know peace with G-d unless we are at peace with one another, and we cannot truly know peace with others unless we are at peace with G-d.
But having a desire to follow G-d’s direction and make amends is not the same thing as knowing what to actually do.
One way to do this is to use the Seven A's, a process I have found helpful.
1. Address everyone involved at the same time (All those whom you affected)
2. Avoid if, but, and maybe (Do not try to excuse your wrongs)
3. Admit specifically (Both attitudes and actions)
4. Acknowledge the hurt (Express sorrow for hurting someone)
5. Accept the consequences (Such as making restitution)
6. Alter your behavior (Change your attitudes and actions)
7. Ask for forgiveness
See Matthew 7:3-5; 1 John 1:8-9; Proverbs 28:13.
But what about forgiveness on the recipients side (the one hurt)?
Forgiveness can not always happen immediately but must come at some point or we will become warped and remain unhealed.
Through forgiveness G-d tears down the walls that our sins have built, and He opens the way for a renewed relationship with Him. This is exactly what we must do if we are to forgive as the L-rd forgives us: We must release the person who has wronged us from the penalty of being separated from us. Therefore, forgiveness may be described as a decision to make four promises:
1. "I will not dwell on this incident."
2. "I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you."
3. "I will not talk to others about this incident."
4. "I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship."
By making and keeping these promises, you can tear down the walls that stand between you and your offender. You clear the way for your relationship to develop unhindered by memories of past wrongs. This is exactly what G-d does for us, and it is what he calls us to do for others.
I hope you find my musings this week thought provoking and helpful on your own spiritual journey as you deal with your own rough edges.
Blessings to you and yours.
I hope to see you at our Shabbat prayer session this weekend.
Your brother in Yeshua in the TEVA TEFILAH,
Many of my comments above are excerpted from the "Peacmakers", a bible based organization, that wants to encourage and assist Christians to respond to conflict biblically.
If you want to dive deeper than I was able to do in this short blog, see more at:
Posted on Thu, April 10, 2014