WHAT IS CHRISTIAN CONCILIATION?

                                                                                                                                                                       

 

            The process of Christian conciliation promoted by CCR combines an honest, but peaceful, approach to seeking just solutions to legal or personal disputes, with a commitment to reconciling personal relationships.

 

            Disputants are challenged to attend to the relationships affected by the legal or personal dispute by being "humble, gentle and patient with each other, making allowances for each other's faults because of love" (Eph. 4:2).  Parties are reminded to "put on the garments that suit God's chosen people, his beloved:  compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, forbearing with one another, and forgiving as the Lord has forgiven them, where any of them have cause for complaint" (Col. 3:12-13).  The parties are encouraged to remember Christ's teaching to "first go and make peace with your brother and only then come back to the altar and offer your gift (Matt. 5:24).

 

            Christian reconciliation does not require a Christian to "cave in" and agree with his opponent on the issue over which their dispute arose.  Just as a Christian can be loving towards an atheist, without adopting his beliefs, similarly, two Christians can love each other without agreeing on every factual issue or legal right.  The process of Christian conciliation accepts that reconciled Christians can still have differences and, when necessary, commit to seeking just resolution of those differences through peaceful means and within the Christian community rather than the civil courts.  (I Cor. 6:1-8).

 

            Christian conciliation includes the goal of just resolutions because God desires justice.  "The Lord wants weights and measures to be honest and every sale to be fair" (Prov. 16:11). Christ rebuked the lawyers and Pharisees as hypocrites because they paid tithes but disregarded "the weightier demands of the law, justice, mercy and faithfulness" (Matt. 23:23).  It is the Christian virtues of truth and justice that often require disputants to honestly assert their concerns and perspectives.

 

            Christian conciliation encourages parties to honestly express their concerns and perspectives even in the more common non-legal disputes that involve matters of style and taste rather than dramatic issues of truth or justice.  Of course, irritations should be overlooked when possible (Prov. 20:3), but Christians should be willing to confront if there is a chance that the problem will affect their fellowship with their "opponent" (Matt. 18:15).  Only by encouraging such expressions can the parties experience genuine Christian fellowship.

 

            The conciliation process comes full circle by encouraging parties to not pre-condition reconciliation on the other party's agreement on the issues (Rom. 14:1)  By emphasizing humility and acceptance of differences parties are able to share honest concerns with each other and then jointly seek a peaceful solution, avoiding a costly and embittered civil lawsuit.

           

            The commitment to peaceful solutions integrates the Christian call to reconciliation with truthfulness.  Peaceful solutions honor the call to personal reconciliation because the concerned party focuses on the legal or factual issues and refuses to engage in a personal attack on their "opponent".  The commitment to address the issues and problems promotes honesty and truthfulness. 

 

            The practice of loving those with whom one disagrees is the uniquely Christian aspect of the Christian conciliation process.  The occurrence of conflict reminds the Christian to drink richly of Christ's love so that they will be able to share it even with those whose differences are a sources of pain.  Clearly, knowledge about the life of Christ, the teaching of scripture, and the power of the Holy Spirit are needed to uphold individuals entering into the process of Christian conciliation.

 

            Christian conciliation is a means by which people can love their adversaries while simultaneously honestly expressing their concerns about the subject of a conflict.  Christian conciliation assists Christian in conflict who are searching for more options than either passively "turning the other cheek" or "aggressively seeking justice through the civil courts in 'righteous indignation'".  Christian conciliation simultaneously promotes both God's call for Christian reconciliation (Matt. 5:23,24) and God's call for justice (Prov. 16:11); its message is that through Christ, justice and mercy can be combined (Matt. 23:23 and Micah 6:8)






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