By Annette Friesen, Conciliation and Training Specialist
You probably know that Peacemaker Ministries, through its division, The Institute for Christian Conciliation (ICC), administers alternative dispute resolution cases through a biblically faithful process using mediation, mediation/arbitration, and arbitration—i.e., Christian Conciliation. So why does this service exist?
Peace and unity are so important to Jesus that He commands us to seek reconciliation with an offended person even ahead of public worship: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with our adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way.” (Matt. 5:23-25).
This command is not conditioned on how serious the other person’s complaint might be or whether it is even justified. Even in difficult circumstances, God wants his people to make every effort to resolve their personal differences outside of the courtroom. Why should Christians use “Christian Conciliation” rather than a secular method to resolve their conflicts? 1 Corinthians 6:1 tells us “If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?” And why is this important? Because our very identity is defined by how we respond to conflict. We are known as God’s children based on how well we “make peace.”
Christian conciliation does more than just provide an alternative to a secular process, it can allow conciliators to draw out the underlying reasons for a dispute, sometimes referred to as “matters of the heart.” But more importantly, Christian conciliation focuses not only on what we should do (“law”) but also on what God has done and is doing for those who trust in him (“gospel”). God has forgiven our sins and made peace with us through the death and resurrection of his Son (Rom. 6:23; 1 Pet. 3:18). And he has given us the freedom and power to turn from sin (and conflict), to be conformed to the likeness of Christ (Eph. 2:1-10; Gal. 5:22-23; Rom. 8:28-29), and to become ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:16-20).
In my role with the ICC, each and every day I have the opportunity to encourage people who are caught in the throes of conflict. But it is more than that; I myself learn to trust God more as I represent the hope of the gospel in hopeless situations. And that’s my prayer for you as well.
Do you want to learn more? If you have not yet reviewed the articles at www.peacemaker.net/ICC, I encourage you to do so. Be prepared to see that there is real hope in this conflicted world!