Reading about the dispute that broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees in Acts 23 reminds me of some fierce rivalries that have existed around the world, many of which still exist today.
Sometimes it seems easier to remember what people disagree about than what they agree on. History often remembers more about what divided people than what unified them. Hollywood’s most popular films often center on some sort of conflict that makes the script riveting to its viewers.
Since the fall of man, we’ve found ourselves in a broken world that desperately needs healing. From the incredible rage of Cain in Genesis 4 to the present rise of revolts around the world, we find ourselves constantly at war, sometimes even from within.
Conflict is healthy sometimes, but a constant grinding that disrupts our commitment to the good of others is destructive. When we only see life from our perspective, it limits our ability to relate to others.
The writer of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV). Jesus chose to experience life from our perspective.
When you find yourself in a serious point of conflict, stop speaking, and listen. Hear them out. Don’t begin by feeling threatened. Start by being open. Perhaps the Lord will use that opportunity for you to gain a better understanding of the “reason” behind their intensity or their pain.
It’s more important to build a bridge than it is to make sure that your point is heard. I’m sure that some of the Hatfields and the McCoys didn’t even know why there was a feud raging between their families. But they sure seemed convinced that there was a good reason why they were bitter enemies, even though they couldn’t tell you what that reason was.
The clear division of the religious sects within the Jewish community in Paul’s day bore no positive witness to the God they claimed to serve. Their value was defined by their ability to staunchly defend their positions. Although throughout history the Lord had demonstrated His commitment to forgive, repair, love and reconcile, they were only content when others capitulated to their perspective.
How sad it is when we steward our words and actions to tearing down others instead of building them up.
The one indisputable witness to the world is our love toward one another! Don’t waste another minute stewarding a broken or significantly strained relationship. God took the first step toward you. Perhaps you should take the first step toward someone else—today!
By: Glenn Burris, president of The Foursquare Church
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