“I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?” (1Cor. 6:5 NIV84)
Before we discuss what to do, let’s clearly establish what not to do. Paul is scolding the Corinthian church for taking its disputes before the worldly court system. He states that it is an embarrassment to the church to air its dirty laundry before the very world it is trying to witness to. Paul is pleading with the members of the Corinthian church to deal with their conflicts and disputes properly. He tells them, and us, that our disputes should be handled from within. We need to show the world three things. First, we are sinful human beings who get caught up in disputes and conflicts that we ought not to have gotten involved in but that our sinful nature drags us into. Second, God’s word has the power to bring truth to our conflict and reveal where the right and the wrong are in the conflict. Third, God’s word, in the hands of God’s people, can bring reconciliation to any Christians facing conflict and dispute.
We Christians of the 21st century can learn much from what Paul said. We tend to deal with conflict in two ways, and both are detrimental to the Christians involved and the church at large. First, like the Corinthians, we tend to get very litigious and are too ready to seek justice and retribution within the courts of this world. We leap off the pages of Scripture and take matters into our own hands. Second, we tend to be like ostriches, sticking our heads in the sand and pretending there is no conflict among us. Ignoring of the obvious creates hurt within the body that is very hard to heal. It ultimately creates more and more division. It is vital that we, as the church, bring the truth of God’s word to the disputes and conflicts within our church so that the church can forever be a beacon of the reconciliation by the power of the Gospel.
May we be bold witnesses to the power of God’s word to bring peace and reconciliation to our moments of conflict and dispute.