Giving youth pastors the tools they need to make and shape disciples.

Rules of Engagement

This is my third post, of a three part series, on resolving conflict in the church. You can check out the first post here and the second here. If I can offer you a custom video lesson on this topic for your youth, you can click here.

In this post I want to talk about the rules of engagement. What rules do you follow when a conflict emerges?

Mob Rule

Mob rule is exactly what is sounds like, who ever has the most and the loudest voices are in charge and they make the rules. Except, the largest crowd is not always right. Jesus was, in a way, a victim of mob rule,

Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.

Matthew 27:15-18

The pressure for Pontius Pilate to crucify Jesus was enormous. Pontius even tried to free Jesus by giving the people a say but they were having none of it, why? Because scripture says,

But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!”

Matthew 27: 20, 21

Jesus never had a chance.

Before you choose a side, listen to both sides, find out all the facts, seek council from non-partisan people, find out what scripture says (if it applies) pray and then choose wisely. Mob rule is for people who cannot think for themselves.

Rule Book

I play a lot of games, board games, card games, etc. Whenever there is a question at the table at how something goes, I am quick to ask, “What does the rule book say?” If we decide that the rule book is in error or does not explain what we should do, we create something called a house rule. Whenever we play this game, at our house, this is how we’ll deal with this specific issue.

People sometimes refer to the Bible as a rule book, as if a game is being played and there are winners and losers. The Bible is not a rule book. The Bible is a story book and was with any good story or movie, there is conflict. Take the marvel movie Civil War. Conflict is in the title in the form of war. The heroes must decide if they are going to sign what is called the Sokovia Accords. Some of the heroes do sign it and some do not producing a conflict. Neither side is painted as good guys or bad guys, just people who believe in living by the rules and a group that does not.

Now there are some “rules” in the Bible. God calls them commandments. He gave Moses 10 of them for the children of Israel to follow so that they could live in peace with each other and with God. These commandments are universal standards that people can choose to obey or not, but there are consequences for not following them.

From the beginning of the Bible to the end, there is a conflict between those who choose to obey God and those who do not. That same decision is up to us as we live our story.

The Golden Rule

Earlier I asked you to name some games that had too many rules and therefore made the game hard to play or sucked the fun out of playing the game. Jesus came to simplify “the rules”. When asked what the most important commandment was, He said,

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

Jesus also summed up the commandments and the prophets with what most people call the The Golden Rule,

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

Conflict is both unavoidable and avoidable. What if you treated others how you wished to be treated, would you have more or less conflict in your life? What if you loved God and loved others, would you have more or less conflict in your life? I think we both would agree the answer is less to both, unless we don’t agree and that would be a conflict. See, I told you, unavoidable.

Ultimately, it is your choice to live in or out of conflict. This does not mean that all conflict is bad, some conflicts must happen so laws can be established or freedoms granted or injustices made right, but this does not give you permission to be rude, unloving or unkind to another. The Apostle Paul said,

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Carefully consider what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18

Keeping this principle in mind and it will help you navigate a conflict for when it comes your way.

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