Conflicts Between the Brethren
Why Does Conflict need to be settled between the brethren?
One of the reasons is because we are members of Christ body.
We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
Since each of us are members of his body (The Church), we should be working together, not in conflict.
Neil Izenberg, M.D. is Editor-in-Chief, of Human Diseases and Conditions. He also is Director of Nemours Center for Children’s Health Media.
He says this, “A system is a collection of parts that interact together for a common purpose. But a system is not just any old collection of parts. The parts are related in such a way that each depends on the others to do whatever job there is to be done. No single part can do the job alone, and any malfunction or delay is likely to affect the whole system.” He continues, “A body system is a set of body parts that do a particular task. The human body itself is an example of a complex system—many sets of interacting parts that work to keep the human machine running.” He goes on to give examples of different complex systems and how they are developed. For example: “Cells they begin to migrate throughout the developing body. Small communities of like cells begin to stick together and to make multicellular structures we call tissues. Different kinds of tissues assemble into organs, such as the heart, liver, and brain. An organ is a part of a living thing that performs specific tasks. For example, the heart pumps blood, the liver (which has more than 500 functions) helps get rid of bodily poisons and stores vitamins, and the brain interprets electrical signals and makes decisions about what to do.
Different organs functioning together are termed systems (or sometimes, organ systems). For example, the respiratory system consists of the nose, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs. The parts of the respiratory system work together to take in the oxygen we need to survive, and to get rid of carbon dioxide (waste gas). The circulatory system consists of the heart, blood vessels, and blood. Its purpose is to transport blood containing oxygen and nutrients throughout the body’s tissues. Because all of our organs require oxygen to function, the respiratory system depends on the circulatory system to transport the oxygen we breathe to all parts of our body.
Similarly, our muscular system together with our bones (called the musculoskeletal system) makes it possible for us to shake hands, to lift a bag of groceries, to smile or to speak, and to get up when we fall down. The energy to move our muscles comes from the food we eat, which is processed into usable fuel by yet another system, the digestive system.
To some extent, body systems overlap. By that we mean that some organs can be considered part of more than one system. The diaphragm, for example, is a muscle involved in breathing, and it is part of both the musculoskeletal system and the respiratory system.”
So we see that the body must work together to be efficient. In the same way the Church must be able to work together with Christ the head to be efficient. As, the doctor says, “No single part can do the job alone, and any malfunction or delay is likely to affect the whole system.” Which brings us to how to handle conflict between the brethren in the body of Christ.
How to settle conflict between the brethren
First, try to overlook an offense (or wrong done to us) and love one another in such a way as to believe the best about your brother or sister in Christ, assuming initially that any offense or wrong was unintended. That must be the foundation before going forward.
The learning of a man is known by patience and his glory is to pass over wrongs.
(1 Corinthians 13:7)
Charity Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Next is to realize that sometimes, even though we are brothers and sisters in Christ, we can become offended by, hurt by, and or angry with, one another. Most of the time these offenses are unintended, and often the person who causes an offense is not even aware that it has taken place, but when the offense does happen, we should know what the Church tells us to do.
Lets look at two scriptures:
If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.
But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.
Let’s look at a few things these two passages have in common that I believe tie them together even though they appear 13 chapters apart in the Gospel of St. Matthew.
-Both passages are recorded as the very words of Jesus himself and in both cases he is addressing those within the Church who have a broken relationship with each other. This is not about those who are out side the Church.
-Both passages command us to go to another person. In one case we are to go to someone we have offended, in the other, we are go to someone who has offended us, so in either case, our responsibility is to go. If we know an offense has occurred we should seek reconciliation.
-This is not primarily about group reconciliation. Rather, it is about individual reconciliation.
"If we have offended someone."
-Right relationships demands action: "If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift."
It’s easy to miss the nature of these verses. Jesus shows us how important it is to make things right with our brother by giving a story as an example.
Here’s the story in the context in which Jesus told it. If you (John, Matthew, Peter, having traveled nearly 70 miles on foot from Galilee to Jerusalem once a year to offer an animal sacrifice in the temple), remember there that someone has something against you back in Galilee; you are to leave the animal there at the temple, travel several days back to Galilee to make amends with your brother and several more days to return to Jerusalem, then and only then should you present your offering in the temple.
Reconciliation with your fellow brothers in Christ is that important. For us, it would be equivalent to traveling across the country by car to attend a very special Mass with the Pope, a once in a life time event for you. And while there, remembering that someone back home has something against you. So you drive several days to get home, make amends with your brother, then drive back across the country to attend the Mass. Maintaining right relationships requires aggressive and prompt action. It’s that important to maintain the unity of the body of Christ.
So what do we do if someone has offended us?:
-Go to them alone. Do not get anyone else involved unless they will not repent. Don’t tell everyone else what the offender did. No one needs to know. You want to be able to keep the offenders character and testimony intact if at all possible. “Well I don’t know how to handle it and I want some advice.” You have the scriptures to tell you what to do. You have priest that can help guide you as well. There is normally no excuse for telling others.
-Don’t think the worse. “Charity believeth all things, and hopeth all things, .” (does not think the worse) I Corinthians 13:7.
-Both sides should “hear” each other. Keep a clear mind. Truly “hear” or listen to each other. Don’t just hear what you want to hear.
-If you cant resolve the issue, take one or two others as witness’s to what is being said. Choose those witness’s who are impartial to the situation. Other wise you get a one sided witness.
-If you still can’t get anywhere, take it to the Church. Go to the priest. Let him get involved. At that point the Church can make a decision.
-What ever the Church decides, stand behind it. They may say the “offender” is wrong and should make things right. If the offender refuses the Church will takes steps. They may also say that the one who has been “offended” has issues and will give advise and take steps. Listen to what they say.
( Hebrews 13:17) Obey your prelates (those who have the rule over you), and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief.
God has a work for us to do. “Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) If the Church of Christ, the body of Christ, is sick, it can not fulfill this command as well as it should. Lets strive to heal the body. Lets strive to heal relationships between each other. Broken relationships within the Church is not worth a soul being in Hel