“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” - Yoda
As a disciple of Christ this is a very difficult subject to breach. You pick the topic and the subject and I can show you hundreds of years of conflict that has even divided Christians and religions. Turn on social media and look at all the venom and cruelty of words that are out there (some even from the church that is embarrassing to watch/read). Some of the most controversial topics are as follows:
- Relationships (husband/wife, girlfriend/boyfriend, sexual variation)
- Death Penalty
- Global Warming
- Legalization of Drugs
- Plastic Surgery
- Stem Cell Research
In the church, alone, we see each other argue over denominations, sexual orientation, baptisms (infant vs adult), politics and so on. No one person or group is exempt from controversy. The real issues are what we do when we reach conflict. How do we resolve conflict and what does God expect from us through this process. (Note: Already in some of your minds, you are saying, "No way" you don' t know what happened to me and how can you ever expect me to forgive?).
Personally, I can share numerous times when life has not been fair or when I have been made a victim. Sometimes I still think about certain events in my past and quietly long for God's vengeance of these past wrongs, but then I am humbled and reminded that I do not want this negative attitude to turn back toward me instead of the aggressors. God is everywhere at every time no matter how we try to spin that mind-blowing thought. That being said, when this God sends His only Son to die for us and pay for our sins, then how can we say that we cannot forgive?
What does Scripture have to say on this:
Romans 12:17-21 ESV Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Steps to take (in no particular order)
- James 1:19 ESV Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
- Matthew 18:15-17 ESV “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
- Proverbs 15:1 ESV A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
- Matthew 5:9 ESV “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
- Luke 17:3 ESV Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,
- Philippians 2:4 ESV Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
- Colossians 3:13 ESV Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
- Proverbs 16:7 ESV When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
- Leviticus 19:18 ESV You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
- Matthew 5:24 ESV Leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
- Ephesians 4:26 ESV Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
- Ephesians 4:31 ESV Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
As Yoda so eloquently states, Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate and Hate leads to suffering. There is so much truth in these words that I can hardly contain myself in typing this. Think about prejudices (= ignorance and misunderstanding ON BOTH SIDES - which births from fear and then anger). Think about Sexual hot topics (homosexuality, cohabitation, pornography, you pick the vice - again, this all leads to suffering). Pick your topic (being a victim = fear leads to anxiety and bitterness and then leads to anger and then suffering).
This is a big ask of all of our readers (including yours truly writing this) but think of the Author of lies and of hate (malice) and deceit - none other than that old Serpent (Lucifer, aka Satan). He is the Father of all lies and loves to tear good in half given any opportunity that God gives him. Think of those that do not know Christ (ignorance and fear which leads to anger and hate which leads to suffering) - this all happens for reasons beyond our comprehension. BUT (there is a big BUT here) there will come a time when all knees will bow and every tongue will confess and God will judge those who are not in the book of life for their transgressions (not knowing His Son) and He will judge the saints for what they have done being His stewards (of His time, talent and treasures).
What are we waiting for? Let's try to forgive as we have all been forgiven!
Thoughts? Remember fear is the path to the dark side. If God is for us, then who could possibly stand against Him?