Questions about Peacemaking
Does this approach to confronting sin violate confidentiality or one’s right to privacy?
- 1 Tim 1:19-20; Prov 29:25; Eph 5:11
Some people say well does this approach violate confidentiality. No, sin has no biblical right to privacy. You see Paul calling the names of some who had betrayed him and betrayed the cause of the gospel. We have these unbiblical ideas. When the lady in our church confronted the lady who was going on the cruise, and then the elders were brought in, the lady going on the cruise, it’s an irony of self-righteousness. She says I can’t believe you’re doing this to me, I thought you were my friend, as if somehow friendship means that you cover for the wickedness of your friend. The bible says friendship means love confronts, love rescues a person from sin. The scripture demands that we follow through. Even if the other person doesn’t want us to. And of course sin wants to be hidden because it’s in the darkness. And be careful never to promise someone confidentiality in an absolute way.
Do these peacemaking techniques every fail?
- Prov 3:5-6
Another question is to these peacemaking techniques ever fail? It’s like biblical counseling. Peacemaking is not always within our power. Remember Romans 12:18, as far as it is possible with you, be at peace with all men. It’s not always possible. People don’t always listen. Sometimes churches don’t practice discipline, or the authorities don’t do their job. But we need to be faithful. And to use the means that God has established and to trust the results to Him. And even when others fail, your conscience can be clear. Somebody asked me during the break, what if you ask forgiveness of somebody and they won’t forgive you. Well, you did something wrong, you wanna make sure you’ve sought forgiveness in a biblical way, but if you’ve done that your conscience can be clear before the Lord.
How can these principles be applied to unbelievers?
Another question people would raise, how does this apply with unbelievers? Some of this goes back to the pre counseling, is this is an area where there are techniques that even work pretty well with non Christians, but if they’re still lost, you haven’t solved everything. But concrete example, my neighbor has a dog which is always barking and getting out and making messes in my yard, do I call the pound or the police first, or do I go to my neighbor directly first. You know, in the workplace, if you’re upset with somebody do you go to the president of the company to try to get them fired or do you go to your coworker with whom you’re upset first and try to resolve it with him. So on a practical level, these principles work in all circumstances. Instead of gossiping and attacking to try to humbly bring peace and sometimes within a family among unbelievers and a neighborhood or in a workplace, we really can stand out for being people who are pursuing peace gently, humbly, and biblically, rather than the way everybody else pursues war.
Is there ever a time when it is appropriate for Christians to go to court?
Is there ever a time when it is appropriate for Christians to go to court? Well the bible does forbid us from suing each other, but we are not forbidden from going to court against an unbeliever, and if an unbeliever takes you to court you can’t stop that probably. Let’s go back to the contractor guy, okay. That if the man refuses to pay the contractor when he should’ve paid, the church has agreed he should’ve paid, then what happens? Well you tell it to the church, and you say that this man owes this contractor $12,000 and we’ve looked at the situation and we believe that he is stealing that $12,000. And what happens if he doesn’t listen to the church? He is now outside of the church which gives him the status of being an unbeliever. He may claim he’s a Christian, but if someone is not a member of a church and in submission to the leadership of the church then you can treat him as an unbeliever. You pursue peace as far as you can, before getting to that point. What really messes this up is you got all these people claiming to be Christians, who either aren’t in a church, or aren’t under a church where they exercise authority, and that kinda gets back to Jay Adams comment of the convents many years ago that if you’re not a member of a church you’ve essentially ex-communicated yourself. If you’re not willing to listen to any church authority. Another case where this can happen is in the case of an unbeliever abandoning a spouse, where you don’t want believers married to each other going to divorce court, or separation, you want this to be resolved between them with the help of the church, but if the spouse who is abandoning the marriage has been admonished and you’ve gone through the process of church discipline, he may still claim to be a Christian. I’ve got a case I dealt with not long ago where a man abandoned his wife of over 20 years, he’s sucked all the money out of the bank account, he’s not giving any support to her, a homemaker and their kids, he’s living with somebody and he keeps telling his kids what a good Christian he is, and how, but I don’t care what he says about himself. That if the church was doing its job, he would’ve been ex-communicated, and then would be regarded as an unbeliever. Now the sad thing is, the church he was going to doesn’t care. Alas.
Before you can make peace with men, you must have peace with God.
- Rom 5:1,10; 8:6; Isa 9:6; 57:21; Luke 1:79; 2:14; 19:38; Eph 2:14,17; John 17:20-21; 2 Cor 5:18-20
So, the difference between us and the world is not that we don’t have conflict, everybody in this room has conflict. The difference is how we handle conflict. That we by God’s grace can seek peace in God’s way. We have received peace from God in Christ, and as Christ made peace we can make peace. Those who are separate from God have no peace. No peace with God, they’re gonna have a hard time with people as well. And before anybody can really have peace with men they must first have the peace that God offers. God who is a God of peace sent His son Jesus Christ on a peace mission, to reconcile us to God, and once we have received that reconciliation, we then are able to be reconciled to one another. The gospel, people who believe the gospel, can be at peace with one another as they follow the gospel. And then we also can be his ambassadors of peace, in bringing peace to others and one day we look forward to a Kingdom of perfect peace, in which there will be no more conflict. And I thank God for that, and I look forward to that.