Volume. XXX, No. 22
Friday, 04 December 2015


From The Pastors Heart: Conflicts II


Last week, we discussed why we cannot eradicate conflicts from our experiences, though we desire a “conflict-free” life.  I should continue on this particular question.  Conflicts are inevitable not only because our nature is sinful, but also because we as individuals are different.  We are different by character, personality, interest, hobby, values, perspectives, taste, temperament, sensitivity, sex, feelings, emotions, ideology, and more externally and environmentally culture, climate,  history, language, family, education, race, religion, experiences, etc.  In other words, we are inherently different by so many factors.  It is not strange that we are different.  We are different people with the same dignity.  When God created human beings, He created them as male and female.  They are equally dignified beings made with different features by which they are to complement each other.  Thus, positively, their differences do enhance and complete their life experiences.  In the meanwhile, their differences could potentially be primary causes of troubles and conflicts between them.  If we expand the kinds of differences into other areas, we will soon find that they can either enrich human experiences and life, or become sources of unhappiness, sorrows, and sadness.  Henceforth, we should understand that being different is not a main issue in the subject of conflicts.  Being different is normal.  What matters with such a reality is that differences must be properly managed and used, so that we can achieve and enjoy harmonious living.  Of course, it requires lots of inner and external factors such as love, understanding, compassion, tolerance, patience, and so on.  The level of harmonious life or conflicts also depends on individuals’ maturity.  Of course, their spiritual life is critical to reach the needed and desired maturity.  However, we cannot stop there, because individuals’ spirituality can also be a primary factor for even more violent conflicts.  It is possible that we do not keep harmony and peace in the name of God within the same religion.  It requires us to consider even more things to achieve harmony and overcome conflicts.  As to such matters, I would not go into right now.

Nonetheless, we may begin our talk by making a small conclusion from the thoughts in the above paragraph.  God created us differently, and our differences are not abnormal.  Sometimes we need to accept each other's differences.  God designed these differences for our completion and happiness.  At the same time, if we do not have proper use and perspectives of such differences, they can be dangerous sources of conflicts, fights and heartbreaking miseries.  It leads us again to say that we must learn to manage and use our differences properly, which will help us to manage conflicts without sinning against God and fellow human beings.  Not in theory but in reality, we may face situations in which we cannot but raise such questions as following (just a few examples): “If we marry, when, where, and how?”  “Should we have children?  Then how many and when should we have them?”  “Should we buy this or that?  If we should, what should be the budget, color, shapes, or brand?”  “How far should we allow our parents meddle with our family life?”  “Should we or should we not stand up for our spouse to our parents?”  “Should we discipline our children?  If we should, then, who, when, and how to do it?”  Individuals’ freedom could be infringed and violated, and individuals’ creativity could be suppressed, and individuals could be offended and upset, whenever individuals’ differences are not properly used and managed.  As a result, conflicts are flared up.  We must not forget that conflicts do exist even between God and man.  Now let us consider how we manage potential conflicts in the real world.

First, we must begin with a proper understanding of our God.  God is the God of peace.  Our Savior, who will come again for the same time, is named “the prince of peace.”  Despite huge conflicts between the holy God and the sinful mankind, God desired and planned to bring peace between Him and His creatures.  Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  He provides us with peace in spite of our anxiety and cares.  Philippians 4:6-7, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Our God is a peace making God.

Second, biblically guided holy desires may be the cause for stirring up certain conflicts within us.  For example, a Spirit-filled man will experience constant conflicts with his evil propensities.  Through these conflicts, he will experience more and more victories over the lusts of his flesh and be able to mortify them more and more.  A Spirit-filled man is convicted of his sins, which will cause him to experience inner conflicts, which will lead him to experience spiritual poverty.  It leads us to consider that our spiritual desire for holiness and godliness will make us experience conflicts between our duties and our inclinations.  Paul made this point quite clearly in Ephesians 4:24-32, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”  Putting the off old man and putting on the new man are showing both what our duties are and how our inclinations work within us.  If I cautiously add one warning to this lesson, I cannot but talk about dangers of perfectionism and idealism.  Some individuals’ holy desire to be fully conformed to the image of Christ and to reach the level of perfection in which he will not sin any more often brings even more inner conflicts and bitterness against themselves.  On the surface, it appears to be super-spiritual but it is another misguided spirituality that denies the finished work of the Lord.  They ought to remember that God demonstrated His love toward them through Christ’s atoning death, while they were yet sinners.  It is good to mourn over sin, but it could be destructive to condemn ourselves over our weaknesses and sinfulness in the light of perfectionism.  The mourning over our sin and infirmities must lead us to Christ even more by faith not to our own judgment against ourselves, as if our religion after salvation is a self-relying and work-based religion.

Third, we ought to know that many a times peace and war (conflicts) can co-exist in our lives.  It may sound strange.  It simply means that peace is more than the absence of conflicts or strife.  It could mean a positive presence of harmony, acceptance of each other, forgiveness, reconciliation both with God and man.  Stephen was caught and interrogated by the council, and accused of so-called blasphemies.  However, when people saw his face, he looked like he had the face of an angel.  How could he have perfect peace in such a situation that eventually led him to be stoned to death?  Quoting just one verse from a well known hymn, “When Peace Like a River,” would suffice to make this point: “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.  It is well with my soul, It is well, it is well with my soul.”  It was written by a man who lost his wife and children by a shipwreck.  I’ll continue on this next time.

Lovingly,
                     
Your Pastor

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Kitchen Roster -  Helpers today: Bro Houston & Sis Jen Xin Li; Sis Hao Wei Jiang. Next Lord’s Day: Sisters Kimberley Gan, Jun Lin &
Mable Quek. Please see Sis Megan Lim if you have any questions.

*Seniors’ Lunch is on Tuesday, 1 Dec, at Fresh Choice Restaurant, 373 Diagonal Rd, Sturt. All seniors are invited to attend. Please put
your name on the sign-up sheet on the foyer table by today if interested.

*Please note: No Catered Fellowship Lunch & History of Doctrines class next Lord’s Day due to other BCSA activities. In Dec, Catered
Fellowship Lunch will be on the 2nd & 3rd Sunday.

*The Lord’s Supper is postponed to 13 Dec.

Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Deaconess Joyce Gong (Adl);  & others arriving safely at their destinations.

Church activities in the past week.

Visitors & new worshippers.

God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

Prayer Items

Health & God’s healing - Pastor Ki; Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Patrick Tan (S’pore); Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; & others in affliction.

Special Prayer: Rev George van Buuren; & others in affliction.

iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.

New Life BPC (London) - Dr Carl Martin; God’s guidance & encouragement for congregation.

Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.

Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.

Journey mercies: those who are travelling.

Good health in pregnancy: Sis Isabelle Ng.

Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.

Exams for university students.

Persecuted believers in Islamic countries.

God’s guidance & provision of new church property for worship, office & fellowship activities.

God’s comfort - victims of and for those who lost loved ones in the SA & WA bushfires; those who lost their loved ones & healing for those
injured from Islamic militants’ terror attacks in Mali, Kenya & France.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063