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Conflict, Community and Reconciliation is intended to focus us on the reality of human conflict in the world and our role in helping to reconcile conflict. Both outside and inside the church, conflict is a reality of our human condition and has been so since the beginning of time. But, the church (the community of faith) is also uniquely poised, charged and equipped by God to be agents of His love and assist in reconciling conflicts. God’s calls us to resolve conflicts, not hide from them. Conflicts are not the problem; the problem is when the conflicts are not resolved. God used Christ to reconcile us to back to God. And he will use the church community to reconcile relationships with one another and point people back to God.
Humanity in Conflict Since the beginning of time, humankind has wrestled with one basic challenge – how do we peaceably co-exist? Consider Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers. There was no basis for the hatred that developed in these families, but it did. The United Nations defines “major wars” as military conflicts inflicting 1,000 battlefield deaths per year. There are 8-10 wars of this size (and many smaller going on in the world today).
Church in Conflict (v1) This newly formed church in Acts is at an interesting place. It appears healthy and growing but it is also presented with internal conflict. One group of widows appears to be treated differently than a second group of widows.
Church in Community (v2-6). The people of God represent the “community of faith”. We are more than just a church body but we are God’s community. We grow, pray, cry, mourn and rejoice in community. It is very important to understand that we do not have our faith in isolation. Our faith grows together – in community. Thus, even conflict is not worked out alone, but we work it out together in community – for the benefit of individuals and the community.
Church in Reconciliation (v7). Reconciliation means: the ending of a conflict or renewing a relationship that was in dispute; bringing incompatible things together and making them compatible. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 tells about how God restored/reconciled our relationship with God, through Jesus. Because of sin, we were not compatible but through Jesus, Christ’s righteousness is attributed to us. We are reconciled to God and given the “ministry of reconciliation”. In Acts, we see this community worked through their conflict, maintained their health and continued to grow.
Read through 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 and reflect on what Christ has done for us in restoring our relationship with God.