Guest Blog by Ash Narayan, Author of Loving Through Conflict
God has graciously provided us with great wisdom that will both allow our relationships to flourish and build durability to withstand potential conflicts. Several key fundamental principles taught and modeled by Jesus are critical to healthy relationships. Through Jesus’s guidance, these relationship disciplines provide us with excellent examples and essential skills to help us improve our relationships with Him and each other.
Trust is the central pillar supporting any healthy relationship. Trust and honesty go hand in hand as Jesus taught in the Parable of the Unjust Steward, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10). When we are honest with each other, we build trust. The sense of security allows both parties in the relationship to expose themselves fully without any judgment or fear. Trusting someone means you think he or she is reliable; you have confidence in and you feel safe with the person physically and emotionally.
It is because of our faith in God that we trust Him. He is faithful to all His promises. He has earned our trust. In our relationships, while love and forgiveness are given freely, trust is earned through actions. The commonly known five levels of trust in a relationship (Connection, Caution, Consistency, Courage, and Commitment) are the continuum through which trust is developed and nurtured. Strong trust always results in strong relationships. When trust is broken, it must be rebuilt. Building and maintaining trust in a relationship takes hard work and commitment.
It is difficult to have the most basic business relationship, let alone a friendship or deeper personal relationship, if you do not respect the other person or if they do not respect you. Jesus taught in Matthew 20 that we are all equal recipients of God’s gifts, and therefore, we should show respect for each other.
A secular worldview says that respect is earned. The Christian worldview demonstrates God and Jesus command respect. This is demonstrated in three different relationships. First, while God is our supreme authority, because He ordains and establishes government, he wants us to respect people in authority (Rom. 13:1-7). Second, while the Bible does not directly command us to respect our parents, the idea of respect is included in the commands to honor and obey them (Eph. 6:2-3). Jesus always respected the authority of His Father and modeled the same respect that children should show their parents. Finally, God’s command for respect between spouses is made clear in Ephesians 5. When spouses show respect for one another, they bring glory to God and the church.
As we experience God’s overflowing love, we can make investments in the relationship disciplines of communication, honesty, openness/transparency, sensitivity, trust, and respect. Through the Holy Spirit, we can honestly communicate with each other with openness and sensitivity. As our relationships grow, we build trust with each other founded on respect commanded by the Father and the Son. Our relationships will be stronger and ready for any challenges we may face.
Loving Through Conflict
By Ash Narayan
Politics, social justice, the COVID-19 pandemic, church ministry, and marriages are just a small sample of the myriad of issues causing division across the world today. Never before are Christians more divided on these issues and others. In addition, an emerging trend that has created tension and division among Christians is centered on ideology. Christianity’s fundamental beliefs and truths are no longer commonly accepted. Movements such as social justice and moral relativism dominate academia and the teaching and culture of the younger generation. These progressive movements are the cause of substantial conflict among Christians who steadfastly proclaim their love for the same God. While conflicts are inevitable and have existed since the Fall, what is troubling is how Christians are managing conflicts.
Conflicts, if left unresolved, rob us of the joy that healthy relationships bring. While conflict resolution is a laudable goal, many conflicts will be left unresolved. Accordingly, we need to address a different reality. As Christians, we need to learn to live well with each other in and through our conflicts. Jesus modeled essential principles such as compassion, kindness, empathy, humility, gentleness, and patience, all of which help us face conflict.
More importantly, Jesus is the conduit of God’s overflowing love. Love is relationship glue. When Christians love each other well with commitment and perseverance, they can avoid many of the conflicts illustrated. When any relationship experiences conflict, love can preserve, redefine, and strengthen the relationship, even if the underlying issue that caused the conflict is not resolved. God is all about relationships and wants to teach you how to be Loving Through Conflict.
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