Allen Rea, pastor
Dunn Memorial Baptist Church, Baxley
Praise the Lord for the fact that the Gospel of Matthew allows us an audience to read and study the greatest sermon ever preached: The Sermon on the Mount. This sermon stretching from chapters five through seven has received well deserved admiration from countless generations of Christians. The highest praise we can give to the sermon is to obey it. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15 NKJV).
This particular section of the sermon begins Christ’s interpretation of the Old Testament Law. Christ describes conflict in this passage. With each of the Old Testament Laws that He deals, He begins by quoting the Law (verses 21, 27, 31, 33, 38, and 43). Please notice Jesus’ admiration for the Law. His ministry was not the abolishment of the Law, but rather the fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17). His love of the Law is without question, for He Himself was the very manifestation of the 119th Psalm.
Please note the authority of Jesus. He quotes the Law in verse 21 (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17), but then makes the bold statement: “But I say to you” (5:22). Who could do this but God in human flesh? Jesus is the embodiment of grace and truth (John 1:17). Jesus is doing something more than giving a light felt commentary on the Law. Jesus is raising the bar. The Law was content to simply say, “Do not commit the act of murder”. Jesus, however, pushes us further and demands more of us. A faith that demands nothing will profit you nothing.
Conflict affects our spiritual lives. Conflict without a cause places us in danger of judgement and hell fire (5:22). Some conflict is not only necessary, but unavoidable, particularly in matters of doctrine. Someone that does not believe in the infallibility, inerrancy, and sufficiency of the Word of God is not going to have much in common with me; furthermore, He and I are likely to have conflict.
Jesus is doing something more than giving a light felt commentary on the Law. Jesus is raising the bar.
For instance, I am very thankful that men like Jerry Vines and Adrian Rogers considered the Word of God something worth having conflict over during the Conservative Resurgence. Jesus Himself described His mission as one of the sword and not one of peace (Matthew 10:34). Thankfully, Jesus gave us a method to solve conflict in the church (Matthew 18:15-22). It is very disappointing and discouraging to rarely, if ever, see these biblical principles of church discipline put into action.
Conflict affects our worship. Jesus, speaking before He had been sacrificed as the propitiation for the whole world, forbade His listeners from offering a sacrifice if they were involved in a conflict (5:23-24). Worship is indeed a priority; however, worship in spirit and in truth must proceed from the purest of hearts and have the clearest of motives. Just because we show up, sing loud, and listen to a shallow sermon at a certain time of the week does not ensure that worship has actually taken place.
Amos, that mighty bi-vocational prophet that was so close to the heart of God, spoke much about impure worship. “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies … take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments” (Amos 6:21-23). It is a guarantee that if you hate your brother, then God hates your worship. If you are at church to give a show rather than to offer a sacrifice then God will not be pleased. Worship is such a precious thing and in this age of apostasy we simply cannot afford to pollute it with conflict.
Worship is indeed a priority; however, worship in spirit and in truth must proceed from the purest of hearts and have the clearest of motives.
Unfortunately, our motives can be misread, especially when we are following biblical mandates. Reconciliation is not always possible, but it should always be attempted. Paul’s letter to the Romans adds much light here. The best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture. Romans 12:18 states: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Before you give up on the situation, make sure you have done all that you could. Pride may keep us from really giving it our all. Also, be wary of constantly seeking advice from others in the realm of conflict. It is better to kneel in the prayer closet than to lie on a counselor’s couch.adversar
Conflict affects our number of adversaries. Our list of allies within our culture is drawing thin. We have witnessed a cataclysmic avalanche of digression in our country. In a matter of decades we went from Christian, to post-Christian, and perhaps now our culture should be labeled anti-Christian. The “land of the free and the home of the brave” has morphed into the land of fetal murder and legal debauchery. The Word of God will be increasingly un-welcomed in our country, and therefore the man of God that brings it need not expect a warm welcome. The cold and carnal churches that pepper our state are little different from the culture. Come Lord Jesus!
Before you give up on the situation, make sure you have done all that you could.
Conflict can and will doubtlessly happen. The issue is how we respond to it. No one should thrive off conflict, but all should be aware of what the Bible demands of us. As evangelicals we should expect conflict with the world because it is sold out to Satan (1 John 5:19).
As Christians, we must love and pray for each other at all times, but especially during times of conflict. Love always; compromise nothing. Regardless if you were the cause of a conflict, always be ready to find a resolution.