…and the God of peace will be with you

I’m starting to work out how to ‘switch gears’ between (say) a deep pastoral conversation and Bible study prep and banter about theology. Some days these — along with other kinds of demands — seem to bombard me thick and fast, leaving me little mental or emotional space in between to ready myself for whatever’s next.

So it’s nice when different things actually come together. Spooky even.

This Monday, I led a workshop on ‘Living in grace … when you feel frustrated’. My aim was to help people grapple with how to deal with conflict Christianly.

I drew, in part, from Ken Sande’s excellent book The Peace Maker. Sande advocates a shift from competition to collaboration. Obviously, there’s a lot of common sense in this — and Sande also highlights some biblical wisdom to back this up.

I then got thinking about some of the theological ‘deep structures’ that make this make so much sense in the world God has made. And I attempted to put this into words in a nerdy theological footnote which read:

Adopting a God-centric approach to conflict resolution (rather than either a me- or you-centric approach) doesn’t mean that we become doormats for God. The assumption made by many that for humans to become great, God must become less (and vice versa) is unhelpful. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself up for us, isn’t a cosmic tyrant who wants to grind us under foot. His intention has always been for us to flourish in relationships of mutual love that echo the inner life of the Trinity. Because love and relationships — not power and possession — are at the heart of reality, we are free to set aside our own selfish interests without thereby missing out on what life is really all about.

Then — and here’s the spooky part (sort of) — I sat down to read Philippians 4.2-9 with a guy yesterday.

In this passage, Paul deals with helping each other resolve conflict just before he weaves together promises about the presence/nearness of the God of peace and some concrete strategies for joyful Christian living.

Sweet.

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