Why do we have conflict? Learn about five major reasons that we have problems internally that cause us to end up in conflict with others.
[Gary Petty] You and I live in a world of constant conflict. It is all the time. Can you imagine turning on the news once and the news people saying, “well, all the politicians agreed today.”? No. Everybody’s in constant conflict. And, of course, you go to work every day and people there are in conflict. You come home, husbands and wives, parents and children are in conflict. Where do we go to get away from the conflict? From the constant struggles between human beings?
As Christians we kind of follow the Prince of Peace, don’t we? That’s what we say. But you know, many times in our lives, whether it be husbands and wives or longtime friends inside the church itself, we have conflict. And many times it is difficult because when we look at the church we will see divorce, we will see people not getting along, we will see people angry and bitter, we will see all the results of conflict and sometimes inside the church it is no different that the world. And that means there is something wrong with us because you and I were called to follow the Prince of Peace. And peace is more than the absence of armed conflict. I mean, the obvious breaking of peace is when you turn on the television and you watch all over the world people rising up and wars taking place, people killing each other, dictators crushing the rights of their people with tanks. We see this armed violent conflict. But, you know, violence is just the far end of conflict. You could stop all violence today and we would still be a people on this earth in conflict. We would still live in a world of conflict. We would still have conflict between ourselves and our families and between each other as Christians.
Why are Christians so often embroiled in the same conflict as the world? Why aren’t we any different? Because we are supposed to be. The solutions to solving the conflicts that happen between Christians, whether it’s husband and wife, whether it’s inside the family, inside the congregation, with each other, whether it’s how we deal with the world, or how we deal with our co-workers, how we deal with our neighbors. This is really important because before we can understand how we should deal with conflicts we have to deal with the very foundation of what Christianity is. Very core foundation of what Christianity is. You think “oh well, this is good. This is going to be a sermon on conflict resolution.” I am not going to give you ten steps on conflict resolution. Before we ever get to those kinds of discussions we have to deal with other issues.
You know, it is natural for human beings to have difference of opinion. Right? We all have differences of opinions on all kinds of things. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have dysfunctional conflict. In any relationship in which the relationship is healthy, that doesn’t mean there is a lack of disagreements. Even the most healthy of relationships (except one that we can talk about and that is between the Father and Jesus Christ) all the HUMAN relationships, we are talking about human relationships, have issues we disagree with.
I can remember early in our marriage my wife and I having a terrible argument (we don’t argue over this anymore, we found a way to fix this) over where we would go for vacation. But that is because we had family scattered all over the country and all of our vacations, for years, for 25 years every vacation that we went on but one was to go visit family. And which family are we going to go visit? And which family is going to be upset because we didn’t get to see them on this vacation? So what we would try to do is sometimes take these long vacations. Two week vacations where all we would do is drive 6000 miles visiting family. That way everybody was happy. Of course, we were exhausted and needed a vacation when we got back. But we would have these difficulties, on which family would we see. Those are normal. Over time we figured out a way to solve the issues. But solving the issues, it isn’t the reason. The issues aren’t the reason for the conflict. So you say “no , what we have is a difference of opinion.” A difference of opinion can be worked out. So we have deal with why there really is conflict. What is the basic core of conflict? In the sermon on the mount …there are some things I want you to write down today because in this series of sermons we are going to be going back to some core ideas. One of them is this: IT is from the sermon on the mount. One of beatitudes mentioned by Jesus Christ. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.
We are going to talk about peacemaking and we are going to talk about being the children of God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God. So when disagreements in our marriages and our friendships and disagreements among people in the congregation among Christians leads to the same bitterness, the same lack of forgiveness, the same destruction outcomes as the world then we are not acting as the children of God. When our conflict leads to the same destructive outcomes as the world, then we are not acting as the children of God. You say, “how can you say that”? Because blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God. So, write that down. That is one of the premises that we are working on up here. How can we be examples to the world as children of God as peacemakers if we can’t live it ourselves? Peace is not just the actions that happen between people. As we go through this you are going to realize that peace is something that happens inside of us. Peace is first an internal issue and then becomes and external issue. What we think is the argument over what color fabric they have on the living room couch is the real issue and it is not. The disagreement over color is just an opinion. The anger and the fighting and the bitterness are a result of something else.
I'm going to go through some of the major reasons why we have conflict internally. I want to start with this. There are 5 major reasons that we have problems internally that cause us to end up in conflict with others. The first 4 we will cover very briefly but I want you to write them down because we are going to go back and deal with these next week. IT is 5th one that I want to really zero in on because the 5th reason is the major reason.
Now the first reason that there is conflict between human beings is because of pride. We can talk a lot about pride but I am not going to talk about it much. I am just giving you an example. You can write this down and say, Okay, these are the reasons people have conflict with me and I have conflict with others. Pride is an exaggerated viewpoint of yourself. And so we become deceived by ourselves. The problem with pride is that it is very deceptive and we deceive ourselves. We have an exaggerated viewpoint of who we are. And because of that, Pride, we forget the whole purpose of Christianity is about how we treat others. And instead our whole viewpoint because centered on how others treat us. Christianity is about how we treat others. But when we become driven by pride we become driven by how others treat us. And, therefore, we become totally consumed with negative thoughts and feelings. And we wish to be vindicated no matter what the price. And when we are driven by pride here’s what happens to conflict. There is only one way to solve conflict. And that is to win. The only way to solve conflict is to win so we have pride. That is a whole subject in itself. But, I want to zero in on number 5. So, we have a pride issue.
A second reason that we have such dysfunctional conflict with each other, and I am expert of this- I have done a whole lifetime of dysfunctional conflict in one way or another. We all have. We all become experts at bad conflict. The second reason that we have such dysfunctional conflict with each other is because we need the other person to emotionally heal us when we have been hurt.
I knew a man one time that was hurt by another person and the other person died. And he lived in such turmoil because there were two things he wanted: either justice or healing. Right? Either the person has to pay or the person has to say they are sorry. The person died. The person couldn’t receive justice. He couldn’t be punished for what he had done. And he couldn’t say he was sorry. And this man was in agony all the time. He almost couldn’t have relationships with other people. I will never forget what he told me. This was many, many years ago. He said “it’s as if this man is reaching up out of the grave controlling my life. I need to be healed and he can’t heal me. I need him to say he is sorry so I can be healed.”
So many times we are driven by emotional conflict because of a desire and need. I need that, we all need that… for someone to say they are sorry. As I have said before, “I am sorry” may be the 3 most important words in a relationship, maybe even more that “I love you”. “I am sorry” when the person actually means it. When the person defines, here is what I am sorry for, here is what I did wrong. Instead of “I am sorry.” “why?” “because I hurt you.” Well, that is demeaning. But to be able to say “I am sorry. Here is what I did wrong” may be the most important 3 words in any relationship. But we have this emotional need to be healed. What happens when 2 people hurt each other. Pride in conflicting. You get 2 people filled with pride and guess what happens? That conflict goes on and on and on because they have to win. Pride makes you have to win. What happens when people are driven by it and need to be emotionally healed and they both hurt each other, they both are driven to have the other person heal them.
A third reason that we get trapped in conflict that we can never resolve is we have expectations that others will satisfy our needs and desires. Now, you have to understand, that’s not entirely wrong. We would never have a relationship if we didn’t get something out of it. I mean, people would never get married unless they expected to feel loved by the other person, to work together, to satisfy each other’s emotional needs. All of us are driven by desires to be happy, to experience pleasure, and to avoid physical and emotional pain. Here is the problem; all of us are expecting everyone else to do that for us. We have these very high expectations for each other. When other people don’t meet those expectations, we go in conflict with them. Marriage is such an easy example to use. I mean, if you are a person that needs verbal affirmation and your husband never says “I love you” or never says anything nice about you or praises you or thanks you for anything, you are miserable. Right? You expect him to do that and when he doesn’t meet those expectations there will be conflict. Pride is one of those things that are very detrimental to relationships. The need to be emotionally healed is part of who we are. But if we don’t understand that and we don’t deal with that we will never heal any relationship. Those needs, of themselves, are not evil. But they become conflict driven. You WILL meet my expectations or you WILL pay. Once we head down that emotional route we begin to destroy the relationship. WE begin to perceive others as blocking our expectations for happiness. We see them as the source of pain, the source of keeping me from what I want in life. So, we put on our battle armor and we go in for hand to hand conflict. Because you are keeping me from being what I want to be. Or you are keeping me from happiness. You are not meeting my expectations.
The fourth reason is the need to control. All of us are designed to have in us, when we are confronted with conflict, a reaction of fight or flight. Right? We either run away from conflict or we rush into it with our sword drawn to fight. And that is the normal human reaction to conflict. We either run or we fight. Well, there are times to run and there are times to fight. But, if you really want to solve conflict, neither of those will work. Here is part of the reason we either fly away or fight…we want to protect or rights, we want to protect our self-image, and we want to protect our emotional security. The truth is, in much of life we don’t have a lot of control. WE don’t. We have control over some things. In fact one of the great bits of wisdom is figuring out what you have control over and what you don’t. When you and I are fighting to protect our self-image and you look at all four of these and you mix them together, here is what we do. We literally make ourselves an idol. We become our own god or goddess. We will determine how other people will worship us. We will determine how other people treat us. We will determine, and always be the final arbiter in our relationships. You may say “well, that is a pretty strong statement to make, that we become our own gods.” Well, we are acting as our gods, acting as our own goddesses.
Now we are going to get into the real reason for conflict. Those are the emotional human reasons and mental human reasons for conflict. But those are the result of something. All human conflict comes down to one conflict. And how we solve that conflict will determine how we resolve conflicts with each other. One conflict at the core of all of it. What is it? Let’s go to Romans 8 We have all erected, in our own minds, a self-image of ourselves as the center of the universe. Every human being sees himself or herself, in our own mind, the way we act, the way we think. We wouldn’t say this, but it is what we do. In our own self-image, we are a god or a goddess. Everybody is supposed to act a certain way when around us. Everybody is supposed to be a certain way when they are around us. Everybody is supposed to treat us a certain way. We expect it. And, when it doesn’t happen, we have conflict with them. Right? Because of the carnal mind, this is the natural state of a human being. Because your natural state and my natural state, and brethren, folks, we’re still partly this way. This is why we have so much conflict. Because we haven’t dealt with this conflict. The carnal mind.
Romans 8:7“The natural mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the law of God nor can be.”
There it is. Write that one down. That is one of the premises we are going to work off of. You and I are naturally the enemy of God. You know, during this Passover season we are brought back to that and I fear we really haven’t grasped what that means. In our natural state we are the enemy of God is what that says. And we CAN’T do His ways. You can’t. You may want to but you can’t because you have an innate hostility towards His solutions. I know I am still that way. There are certain solutions to God. My initial reaction is still hostility. No, I don’t want to do it that way. I don’t like that way. That is not the way I want it to work. Why? Because I want it to work MY way. I want it to meet my graven image that I have in my mind of myself. That’s what I want. I am only speaking from experience, folks. This is our natural state. Now, we are enemies of God. We know how it came to be this way but let’s go set the basic core premises again. Genesis 2 WE are in conflict with God. There was a time you did not know you were in conflict with God. You just thought God loves me, I love God, but you lived your life as an idol. You worshipped yourself and you were in conflict with God. Well, I was a good person. Well…
Genesis 3:1-6 “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field”
talking about Satan, of course,
which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’? And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. “
Now, there are three interesting motivations here. In verse 3, the tree was good for food. This wasn’t poisonous and it was going to taste good. It was desirable and pleasant to the eyes. It was something that was good looking and it would make her wise. In other words, to know the difference between good and evil was a good thing. And she took it. When you look at those 3 motivations of themselves they weren’t evil. Of themselves. To want to learn wisdom isn’t evil. To want to eat good food is not evil. But those desires, uncontrolled, get twisted. And at that point she became..it all started in her mind..sin started in the mind. That sin led to an action, and she became a mixture of good and evil. And at that point she was hostile towards God. If she would have said, “NO, I love God! I am going to do what’s right” She would have loved God. But now she became hostile towards God. Her nature changed. When Adam followed along his nature changed. It wasn’t just a matter of “Ooo, I committed a sin!” The very core of who he was and she was, as a person, changed. They were no longer in a loving peaceful relationship with God. They had become, at this point, gods in their own eyes. They determined right from wrong. They determined good from evil. They had become their own gods. And, as their own gods, since there is only one God, they are now in hostility and conflict with the one God. And the one God said “FINE, you don’t live in my house anymore.” Remember, Adam and Eve didn’t walk out of Eden. They were kicked out of Eden. The one God said “you are in conflict with me. I am God, you are not. You must leave My house. You are no longer my children and humanity are no longer the children of God.” Something changed in them and they became something else. And it is what you and I were.
But we have been called to be something different. And we act just like our own gods when we worship ourselves, when we make the idols we are we end up back in conflict with God. Because, remember, you and I still have elements of this hostile nature in us. It is still there. Not the way it used to be, hopefully. But it is still there. We have to remember, there is only one God, there is no room in God’s house for millions of self-determining gods. Just doesn’t exist. It is interesting in I John 2:16 I wrote down so much information that it is impossible to cover it all today, but we have to at least set the premise. We have to understand the conflict we have because we are our own gods. We are idol worshippers. We worship ourselves and this basic core concept between us and the true God is why all other conflicts exist. And the Passover season is supposed to remind us of this.
I John 2:16 “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”
The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Same three motivations that motivated Eve. Originally the desires were not evil, but they became twisted. Now let’s look at the human nature that we have talked about so far. It is exaggerated hostile human nature, what it means, and why we have conflict.
Let’s look at what we have covered. We’ve talked about pride, an exaggerated view of self so that we have to win over others. We have an emotional need to be healed by those who have hurt us. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is a powerful driving force. We have a desire to be happy, experience pleasure and avoid both physical and emotional pain. And we have expectations that other people will do that. The natural human reaction to conflict is fight or flight. We want to protect our rights, our self-image, and our emotionally security. And we desire to do this. And something happens to us.
Let’s talk about this change in nature. Ephesians 2, We read this scripture all the time. Let’s go back to Ephesians 2. Because of this, here is what happens. We have this conflict with God, we have all these core needs that aren’t being met all the time, and so we come back to this. Here He is talking about Christians who have changed. Now, we are in the process of changing, just like these people are in the process of changing. But we need to remember what we were, because we are still carrying part of that in us. When we get to the Days of Unleavened Bread next month we will talk about coming out of Egypt. And how we can’t carry Egypt with us. We will talk about getting rid of leavening. We can’t take leavening with us. We’ve got all these symbols.
Ephesians 2:1 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins”
He said you were dead. You were the enemies of God, God pronounced the death penalty on you, and you were dead. But he made you alive.
Verses 2-3 “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
Showing that sin isn’t just something we do, but something we think. By nature, we became children of conflict. By nature, we must, as God, impose our will on others. We must impose our will on others because I have expectations of others and what they must do to fulfill me. To make ME happy. To do what I want. And so we literally become our own gods and, in doing so, become the children of wrath. Adam and Eve were the children of God. When they ate of that fruit and determined that they would be their own god, determining good from evil, at that point they became the children of wrath, the children of conflict, the children of bitterness, the children of anger. And they were no longer the children of God. Now, that is what every one of us wants. The children of conflict, instead of the children of God. We bring all that internal mess into our relationships with each other. Fortunately, people are mixture of good and evil. Because with that internal mess, if we were completely evil the human race would have killed itself off thousands of years ago. There is still enough good to keep humanity from simply killing itself off. We know that before Jesus Christ returns, humanity will be on the brink of destruction.
Now, in the midst of all this you have something inside you that you must come to grips with. Every one of us has a spiritual deep need; we ache to be restored to God. You and I were designed to have a relationship with God. We were designed to have a relationship with God because we were designed to be the children of God. So, inside you is a conflict. A conflict between self-determination, which we will protect at all costs, because we made an idol of ourselves, and a relationship with our God, which we need and desire. Now you think about the conflict you have, if we could just sit down and analyze it, inside ourselves, which we are not very good at. We have a deep desire, need, ache, to be in a relationship with God, who we are also hostile towards at the same time. We are hostile towards the only one who can give us what we need. We are a mess, folks. Human nature is an absolute mess. I need God, I want God to help me and love me and take care of me…as long as I don’t have to do what He says. As long as I can be my own god, you know, like a lesser god. So, I will worship You but leave me alone.
So we have this internal conflict inside ourselves. And that conflict spills out over anything. This is why you cannot solve the other conflicts until you solve this one. The problem is, we are incapable of solving this one. God has to do something.
Now, this brings us to a concept that Paul talks about in II Corinthians. So, we have set the premises that you and I are, at our core, pretty sick, messed up people. That, before our calling, we were hostile towards God. The natural mind is the enemy towards God and can’t be subject to His ways. So, how do we get to where we have to go?
II Corinthians 5:18 Paul says “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled”
I really want to stress this idea of reconciliation. When we go through this you will see that God doesn’t want to solve your issues with Him. Now, this isn’t negotiation where God says, let’s just solve the issues we have between each other and learn to get along. When God talks about reconciliation, He is not talking about solving our issues. He is talking about restoring a relationship. He is talking about changing us from children of wrath to the children of God. So, this idea of reconciliation isn’t just negotiating a peace and going our separate ways but still being hostile towards each other. God wants to change the hostility that you and I have towards Him. He wants to change the fact that we are His enemy and how we feel towards Him as an enemy. So he says
Verses 18-21 “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Jesus Christ came to this earth to carry out the work of reconciliation. To bring us back into a relationship with God. To deal with the primal core reason for all conflict. Because all conflict begins with human beings being the enemy of God. If all human beings were reconciled with God, there would be no war, no crime. There would still be differences between individuals but those issues would be solved. They would be solved because everyone involved was totally reconciled to God.
Now, there is no human being walking the face of the earth, even the most converted among us, that is totally reconciled with God. We still all have bits and pieces of our hostile human nature. Because of that we are in conflict with God and we are in conflict with each other. But Passover is the time when we are brought back in to be reconciled with God. Here is the problem we face; When we look at how God saved us, what we just read here, obviously we have an issue with the law. You and I are all condemned to death by the law of God.
Now, what the Protestants come to the conclusion is that He abolished the law. Which is absurdity, I won’t go into that. But how do you abolish the law? Then there is no need for Him to be sacrificed. There is no need. If there is no sin and there is no law, then there is no need for any of this. But God’s law still stands. He didn’t abolish His law so there had to be a substitute. We talk a lot about Jesus Christ as the substitute, and we should because that is where we start. He is the Passover lamb. He is the substitute for us so that our sins can be covered up and blotted out. Now, after they are covered up and blotted out, what is supposed to happen next? What is supposed to happen after the law of God is satisfied. It is God’s justice. God is satisfied. We will go through Isaiah 52and 53 sometime during this Passover season. IT satisfied Him, to sacrifice Himself. His justice was satisfied. Christ sacrificed Himself in order to satisfy His own sense of justice because we must be held accountable for our sins. And either we die, or we have a substitute for us. Now that is the law aspect.
The question is, what happens next if God’s sense of justice has been satisfied, and you are forgiven. If you have been forgiven your sins but by nature you are still..what? The enemy of God. You are still hostile towards God. You want to do an interesting word study? Go through the Bible and study the word “abomination”. Because abomination, you’ll find, is used many times in reference to God’s interaction with human beings.
Abomination is God’s reaction to hostile enemies. Abomination, it means detestable. It is hard to even put into words the depth of what an abomination is. An abomination is detestable to God, it is disgusting to God. It is something He finds absolutely repulsive. So, what is a human being in relationship to God? Hostile towards God. Enemy towards God. What is God’s reaction to corrupt human nature? He finds it detestable. When we go through this you’ll see that what is fascinating here is what motivates God to do what he does. He finds human beings in corrupt state to be abominations. Now, what we like to do is we like to pick out in there, ok, homosexuality is an abomination, idolatry is an abomination, we like those. Oh yeah, we like to attack those things. But if you go through and look up all the places where abomination is used, you’re going to find that your life, at times, is an abomination to God. While you were His enemy He found you quite disgusting. He found me quite disgusting. Abomination is used for dishonesty, pride, even for a person’s thoughts.
There is a place in Proverbs where He says that a person becomes so wicked that their prayers are an abomination to Me. Well, we think that anybody praying, God would listen to their prayers. God says there are times when there are people so disgusting to Me that I find their prayers disgusting. You have to understand the level of hostility that we have as human beings toward God because we are all corrupt. There are 6 billion gods running around this earth. We’ve all made ourselves gods. And we are the enemies of God and He finds the whole thing disgusting. Oh, no! He LOVES us. Well, I am not talking about whether He loves us or not, I am talking about what He says. Not me. What He says His reaction is to children that become His enemies. Which is everybody, until He changes us.
Let’s read Proverbs 6:16 Wow, this is getting pretty depressing! Right? Whoa! This ministry of reconciliation is amazing. But we have to understand the depths of the price paid. We have to understand who we were if we are going to understand who we are becoming. If we are going to understand how we are going to deal with conflict. What do we receive when Jesus Christ comes back? A reward for helping Him to what? Reconcile humanity to Him and stopping all the conflict among human beings. So we’d better learn it now. Because that is what we are called to do. There is always going to be conflict as long as we are human beings. We have to understand the reasons and core problems beneath it. Why we get eaten up, so much of the time, with anger and bitterness and hatred. Why we have dysfunctional relationships. This is where it starts.
Look at Proverbs 6:16-19 “These six things the Lord hates”
You say God doesn’t hate anything. Well, yes He does.
“Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood,18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.”
You will find place after place in the Bible where you read and say..oh, I have done some of those things! See, we pick out the things about homosexuality and others because it is so easy, then, to go after those people. Yes, that is an abomination to God. But so is it when you sit around devising wicked plans. So is it when you bear false witness. So is it when you sow discord among brethren. So is it when we do any of these things. We are proud. So, here we have this dysfunctional human nature in conflict with itself. In need of God but wanting to be a god at the same time. And, yet, we realize that we are called to be returned to being the children of God. But to be the children of God that means we have to have a basic change in our nature. We have to go from becoming the children of wrath to the children of God. How does that meeting take place? Think about the gap between us and God. There is huge gap between us and God. We are His enemies and He is the righteous creator. You and I can’t bridge the gap. We can’t get from here to here. We talk about God’s grace. Sometimes we are afraid to talk about it since the Protestants use it so much but the bottom line is that you and I can’t get from here to here. The Passover lamb must be slain, the blood must be put on the doorpost and the death angel must pass over us. You can’t go out and play cards with the death angel and say, “I’ll tell you what, let’s just cut cards for this.” You and I can’t go to God and force Him to bridge the gap. You and I can’t even get there on our own. This is what grace is. We have a responsibility. We don’t fulfill that responsibility, yes, you can lose eternal salvation. But what I am talking about here is; How do we get from being the enemies of God (this is the ministry of reconciliation) to the children of God? How do we get from being, by nature, the children of wrath to, by nature, the children of God? How is that bridge, that gulf, that huge endless gulf..how do we bridge that when you and I can’t do it? Romans 10. I am going to go through a number of scriptures here very quickly. Because I am going to read them and expound on them just a little. Because they say it themselves. Romans 10:15 Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God. Let’s go to verse 14
Romans 10:14-15 “ How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?”
Paul says, how does this happen? How does someone call on God? How does someone become into a relationship with God? Be restored to God? How can they do that?
“And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”
How do people get to God?
“15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:”
Now he quotes the old testament.
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
Contained in the gospel message is peace. Peace between nations, peace between families, peace between brothers and sisters, peace between members of the congregation, peace between neighbors. And it all starts with peace between us and God. The gospel of peace.
Hebrews 2. Now we are going to go through a series of scriptures here. Just going through them and looking at how the scriptures say this gap is bridged. Because there are two things that must happen. First of all, God must reach across the gap to us. And then He must do something to bring us across the gap to Him. See what I mean? There is this huge gulf between us and God. We are His enemies. He must reach across that gap then He has to do something to bring us across the gap to Him. There are two things He has to do.
Hebrews 2:14-18 “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death”
Speaking of Jesus Christ.
“He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
You know, one of the reasons we try to control everything? I know why I try to control everything. Fear. If I could just get everything right in my life all the time, I could be happy and have a good self image and be emotionally secure and all my expectations would be met. It doesn’t work that way, though. Does it? We are in fear all the time.
“16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.”
Talking about Jesus Christ, of course, coming from the line of Abraham.
“17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren,”
He had to be made like us. How did He bridge the gap? You and I couldn’t go become God, so God sent His son to become like us. He sent Him across the gap. Jesus Christ, according to Phillipians, willingly did that. There, Paul says, He gave up his privelidge of divinity. He literally became flesh.
“ that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”
He literally became that way. After a hard day’s work of hammering, being a carpenter, his muscles ached just as ours do. There were days when He was hungry, just as we get hungry. There were days when He didn’t feel good, just like we don’t feel good. There were days when the disciples got on His nerves. There were days when He was surrounded by conflict and went to the Father and said…you read some of His prayers. This is bizarre how these people live! He sat and cried…looked over Jerusalem and said “I CAN FIX THIS, if you would let me”. WE have to, at the core of who we are, we have to understand what it means that Jesus Christ became flesh. Remember that old man telling us John 1:1 over and over again until he got sick. Mr. Armstrong said “you people don’t get it”.
And he would take us to John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
And we said “WHY is he doing this?” Well, this is why he was doing it. At the core of our being, we have to understand the price that God and His son paid to cross over that gap, to stop our conflict with them. When we get this, it changes how we deal with conflict with each other. If we don’t get this, we will treat each other the same way the world treats each other. Jesus Christ got dirty and had to take a bath. Jesus Christ went through all kinds of things. And His whole life was conflict. His own brothers and sisters didn’t accept Him as the messiah. Even aftger he died. His own disciples, his own best friends, abandoned Him. He was mocked in public. He was unjustly tried. He was brutally murdered. His whole life was people trying to kill Him just for telling the truth. His whole life was conflict. He crossed that gulf, became like His brethren, to do what? To be made fun of, put down, ostrisized, and give up all the greatness of being divine. Of never having to sleep, never feeling pain. He gave all the up to cross over. Colossians 1:19 Let’s look at how Paul describes the ministry of reconciliation.
Colossians 1:19-20 “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile.”
Now we understand the reconciliation, that He had to die to pay the penalty against the law. But it is more than that. It is so that we can enter into a relationship. It is because the gulf can be breeched. He breeched it. You and I can’t.
“and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”
Peace. Notice what he says. Peace can happen between us and God because of this. Because our sins are forgiven. Because our hostility towards Him is forgiven. Because we can now change so that we are not His enemies anymore. We can become at peace with God.
Notice what verse 21 says:“21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind”
Enemies of who? Enemies of God.
“ by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled”
The ministry of reconciliation isn’t a set of good communication rules so that you and your buddies can solve a problem. Or you, at work, can sit together in the board room and solve a problem. Those are simply ways of dealing with issues. When we talk about the ministry of reconciliation we are talking about the very core of what a human being is.
The death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection was His way of jumping across the gulf to bring us back into relationships by first forgiving us of our sins. Because He won’t accept us in sin. The idea that Jesus just accepts you as you are is one of the greatest lies ever told in Christianity. God doesn’t accept us as enemies. God says, “Come here, let me change you. Come here, let me forgive you. Come here, let me do something with your life so that you and I aren’t enemies anymore, so that we are at peace. Come here and let me do this. I have to jump the gulf for you to do it because you can’t do it. You can’t get across that chasm.”
Verse 22; “ 22 in the body of His flesh through death,”
Why? In the body of His flesh. You know, I’ve got allergies today. Jesus walked around with the sniffles every once in a while. What a price to pay! To have to be made that low to be like your brethren, to be like the other children. What a price to pay.
“in the body of His flesh to present you.”
See, once peace is made between you and God, our nature can be changed. He presents you
“ holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— “
Peace is made between you and God because Christ jumped the void. He jumped the chasm. Here is what is really amazing about this. You know, we need to be healed, don’t we. We will talk about this more next time; how we need to be healed. God’s approach to healing of conflict is the exact opposite of ours. Exact opposite.
Romans 5:6 “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Christ didn’t die for us once we became godly. IT is like the idea that one is unworthy of baptism. Yes, so what do I have to do to become worthy of baptism? Recognize that you are unworthy of baptism.
Verses 7-8 “ 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
While we were His enemies. Because there is no way for us to get across the chasm. There is no way for us to come to God and change ourselves. WE can’t do it. We always admire these people that get the medal of honor because they throw themselves on a hand grenade to save their buddies. OK, we say that is what Christ did. But, no! What Christ did was being tortured and hated by the enemy and threw Himself on the hand grenade to save the people who were torturing. Now there is the context. He took the abominations, that is what He calls us. He took the little finite human beings running around and saying “I’m god, I’m god, I’m god” and He jumped on the hand grenade while we were torturing Him. That is what He did. When we understand this, whatever conflict you have between your husband or your wife or your children gets pretty minor. Most of it. IT is pretty minor. He did it because He loved us. He looked at us, not as what we were, but what we could become. God didn’t see in us just what we were, He saw in us what we could become. And He loved us. That was the motivation. He loved His enemies. God didn’t love us because we were loveable. He loved us while we were enemies. Understand that. While we were hostile towards Him.
Verses 9-10; “ 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
Jesus Christ didn’t stay dead. Jesus Christ was resurrected and now does a work of reconciliation in people. He does a work of reconciliation. So we were forgiven, but in bridging that gap He is still on the other side of that gap. He is still with us reconciling us through his spirit, bringing us to God. Acting as a high priest, acting as an older brother. All these terms that are used in the scripture. This is how we bridge the gap. This is what Passover is all about. Now, He bridged that gap by jumping over it to us. How does God take us to the other side. There are two steps to this. Next time we will discuss the ministry of reconciliation and how Christ crossed the gulf for us to become flesh…the mind of God in a human being. And what He is doing now to reconcile to us so that we can come across that gulf and have a relationship with God that can last for eternity.