How to Have a Proper Church Fight (Reading Romans 12:14-21)

In previous posts I have already established that the church is not an ideal community. The church has an ideal purpose, an ideal goal, but it is comprised of less than ideal people. Let’s all sing together, “I am one of them, and so are you. . .so let’s just praise the Lord!”

Because of the less than ideal nature of the church, conflict cannot be avoided. Most people would say that within the church conflict should be avoided at all costs. I am not sure if you have ever thought about that sort of statement, but if you are avoiding conflict, doesn’t that mean there is conflict? Just because you avoid something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I rest my case. Conflict cannot be avoided.

So how do you have a proper church fight? Paul says to counter punch. Instead of taking a defensive posture, take an offensive one. Be a blessing in the conflict. Punch back for the sake of reconciliation instead of retaliation. Huh? It’s true. If someone insults you, counter punch with honor. Paul’s positive counter-punch strategy is contrary to human nature, but here are some selected verses to demonstrate his teaching:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. (12:14)

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. (12:17)

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (12:19)

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (12:20)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.(12:21)

THERE IS NOT A PERSON ON THE PLANET TO WHOM THIS WILL COME NATURALLY! This being the case we must remember Paul’s context. The only way to relate to other people is to:

1) Surrender the self to God (12:1-2).
2) Police the self (12:3).
3) Exercise every measure of grace God has given you (12:3).

Those three principles drive this passage. So does this mean a positive church fight looks like two people standing toe to toe arguing about who loves the other one more? I wish. The overriding principle of the passage is that the only person you can control is YOU. You cannot control how others react or respond to right. Even when you do right, others may not respond well. No matter how they respond, you must seek what is right.

So how do you have a proper church fight? Do the right thing. Police the self. Punch back for the sake of reconciliation instead of retaliation.


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