Disagreements happen, but they don’t have to undermine good relationships. The early church faced problems. If we look closely at Acts 15, we see a deeply divided church, but we also see a path to resolution. The problem was how to unite two disparate cultures. The Jerusalem church taught that Gentile converts must first become good Jews to enter the church. The outlying churches believed that Gentiles Christians should be free from those traditions. If we use the same pattern used by the leaders in Acts 15 to resolve issues, we can find a path for hope in all of our relationships. What was their path?
Keep Talking: Paul and Barnabas kept telling their side of the issue. The others eventually heard them with an open mind. Shutting down communication solves nothing. On the other hand, neither does screaming and yelling. Choose to continue to engage in peaceful though difficult communication without becoming discouraged. Married couples should not go to bed angry. If there is still tension, acknowledge it, but commit to continue to talk about the issues as soon as possible.
Look to Scripture: The leaders of the Jerusalem church had a difficult time seeing the other side until James quoted the Prophets Amos and Zechariah. We can find many answers in Scripture. Some of them are personal encouragements that help us see ourselves as help or hindrance in the situation. In quarrels over ethics or morals, Scripture should be the final authority.
Find a compromise: The Jerusalem church recognized that there were cultural differences need addressing if the two groups ever wanted to find unity. Both sides recognized that certain modifications were necessary to keep the peace. In arguments, often both sides have good points. Work towards agreement on the central issue while expecting different paths to achieve it.
Lastly, avoid hypocrisy: Though the Apostle Peter agreed that Gentiles and Jews could live in unity, he failed to support the compromise when he later visited Paul’s church. Stick to the agreement. Don’t go along just to get along. Passive resistance is never helpful.
The Holy Spirit is marvelously relational. We can feel confident that as we pray and do our part, he will guide us to a resolution.