The Holy Spirit that indwells baptized believers of Jesus Christ is described as a spirit of power (2 Timothy 1:7), but sometimes it feels that the power of God is not greater than the powers of the world. One of the times when it feels that way is when there’s conflict in the church and when Christian brothers and sisters allow disagreements to divide them in such ugly ways that the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ seems to be losing ground to the baser human instincts that comprise Satan’s playground. In those instances, the flesh overpowers the Spirit, to use the apostle Paul’s phrase, and we become more driven by our own pride and ego than we are by the Spirit of the Prince of Peace.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. It is possible to resolve conflict and create peace. It is possible to solve problems in the church in a way that honors Christ and actually strengthens Christ’s church. And Acts 15 shows us how.
In Acts 15 the leaders of the church in Jerusalem (along with some other early Christians) met together to solve a problem that threatened to divide the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians. Their actions provide a template for how to solve problems in a Spirit-driven way – a way that demonstrates to us and others that we are being led by the Holy Spirit.
- Meet together (Acts 15:6, 33).
- Identify the issue (Acts 15:6).
- Respect each other as fellow believers (Acts 15:7, 13, 23).
- Listen to each other (Acts 15:12).
- Consider God’s work and Word (Acts 15:7-9, 15-18).
- Use rational judgement (Acts 15:19).
- Don’t overcomplicate the issue (Acts 15:20, 28-29).
- Convey your message in person (Acts 15:22)
- Prove your sincerity through your actions (Acts 15:26).
- If absolutely necessary, part ways without burning bridges (Acts 15:36-41).
If we will follow this model of behavior, we can solve problems and resolve conflicts in a way that promotes the peace of Christ.