Have you read the news lately? Most days what headlines is just bad news in different forms – homicides, suicides, theft, bullying, gossiping, arson, and the list goes on! Don’t we just wish there was an end to this hurt and hate? That peace and justice would rule? Don’t you wish we had a little good news for a change?
Can we do anything?
Can we as individuals do anything about this? Yes.
GK Chesterton once answered the question “What’s world with the world today?” by saying “I am”.
We can start changing what we read on the news by being what we wish. We can choose to respond to conflicts in our lives with peacemaking responses – confessing, repenting, forgiving and reconciling, and when we are unable to do this on our own we can intentionally seek wise, loving and reconciliatory help from others.
But why would we do this? Why would we want to confess and repent of our wrongs, forgive others their wrongs and seek reconciliation – especially if the others involved in our conflicts are not similarly minded?
Because if we examined our lives soberly, we would realise that whilst our wrongs are not the same as those with whom we are in conflict –we are nevertheless wrong doers – just like them! We would realise that we are not really any more innocent than them – just different in degree and scale. We deserve condemnation and punishment – just like them.
But God does not condemn or punish us for our wrong doing. He forgave us – even gave Jesus to die for us before we confessed and repented. He took our condemnation and punishment and paid for our sins and made a pathway of peace open to return – so that we could be in relationship with him.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
That’s why and how we can choose to take the first step to make peace in this broken world.
What about injustice?
Is it wrong to be angry at injustice? No! (but how we express this anger is important to get right.)
We were created in the image of a God who is perfect love and justice. We were placed in a perfectly created world and when we see injustice, we long for and can even advocate for something better.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. … God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (Genesis 1:27, 31)
In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
Because of sin, our perfect world is now broken and sinful.
There is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10)
… sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people … (Romans 5:12)
So how are we to respond to all the wrongs that don’t get justly dealt with in this world? The Bible has an answer for that as well.
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)
Jesus will sit on the judgment seat and all those who have sinned and wronged others (and God himself!) and do not accept Jesus’ substitutionary death in their place – will be judged, condemned and punished. We can rest assured that a holy, sovereign and loving God will ensure that everyone who has not been justly dealt with in this life – will not ultimately escape true judgment.
But God …
But God does not desire condemnation for anyone. He seeks to love and be in relationship with everyone. His judgment is slow because he desires everyone to confess and repent of their sin and accept the good news of Jesus’ death in their place and so should we.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
Let’s model our lives after the holy, sovereign and loving God that created us and seek to love and reconcile to everyone, especially to those that hurt us. And we can pray for change for those who choose to remain pridefully in their sin, knowing that God will ultimately deal justly with all.
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:9-10)
If you want to learn how to be the change you want to see in this world, reading through Reconciling Everyday Conflicts (Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson) is a great way to start. It provides some practical strategies on how to deal with everyday conflicts in a redemptive and loving way.