“Make every effort to live at peace with all men.”  Hebrews 12:14a

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

 

            As Christian home schoolers my husband and I take seriously God’s call to live at peace with others. We always have, but it hasn’t always been easy. When Rick and I began home schooling in 1984, pursuing peace with those who wanted to make home schooling illegal--or at least very difficult--led more often to adversarial relationships than it did to peaceful ones. Over the years, however, we have seen the tables turn. Through the efforts of many, home schooling is not only accepted now, but often we are considered some kind of saint for having the patience and fortitude to stay home and teach children all day!

            And yet our responses to those who question our home schooling can still be adversarial in nature. Home schoolers are wonderful and unique, but perhaps the long years of battle have left us more willing to fight than to pursue peace. I have seen this tendency in myself! Even though all our home school battles are not yet won, we can choose to see our home schooling differently. In Second Corinthians Paul says, “And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:19b-20a).  As ambassadors for Christ who home school, we can deliver the gospel of peace. We can do this by learning to respond to our conflicts biblically.

             As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict.  So begins the “Peacemaker’s Pledge,” which beautifully states a Christian’s commitment to being a peacemaker. (For the full text of the Pledge, visit www.HisPeace.org.) So I have to ask myself, how do I respond to conflict, and is my response a godly one? 

            In order to learn how to respond to conflict biblically, I need to understand what conflict is. In his book, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, Ken Sande defines conflict as “a difference in opinion or purpose that frustrates someone’s goals or desires.” This definition includes large conflicts like lawsuits and the little conflicts we encounter every day.

            For example, in my own life the adversarial approach reasserted itself the other day when I caused a conflict with Rick. We were having a small support group leaders meeting. As we were finishing it, Rick, who is our organization’s president, mentioned that due to the time we would have to forgo what I was going to say (which could have waited and wasn’t that important). He had previously told me that this might happen. Yet without thinking, I jumped up and asked him, “May I have a few minutes?” Without waiting for an answer I began talking. I was so focused on what I wanted to say that I didn’t give any regard to his leadership or his desire to finish the meeting. Our desires had become diametrically opposed.