The Peacemaker, written by Ken Sande, is an essential gospel-centered piece of literature which provides each reader with a guide to a biblical response for conflict through repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
For many Christ followers the simple thought of approaching conflict can be intimidating, not to mention the challenge in trying to respond to it in a Christ-like manner rather than in our flesh. In the book, The Peacemaker, author Ken Sande takes us on a guided tour of what scripture dictates to us as a biblical model for approaching and addressing conflict with both believers and non-believers.
Conflict is something which touches each one of us at some point or another in our lives, and in some aspects on a daily basis. Whether it be children squabbling over a toy with a sibling, teenagers asserting independence through rebellious behavior, or adults butting heads with a co-worker, we are all faced with conflict. Each one of us holds the responsibility to respond with a Christ-like heart and behavior. The question we must ask ourselves is; how are we going to choose to respond to and address the conflict? Are we going to respond in a gospel-centered manner or are we going to let our flesh and the influence of culture dictate our behavior?
Ultimately, the answer to how to deal with conflict is summed up in the book by one simple yet life challenging choice, gospel-centered love. Not worldly love, the kind which is superficial and self-seeking. No, the kind of love The Peacemaker points us to is a love, which is only found through Christ. The foundation for addressing any conflict must be the gospel, without it our efforts produce nothing worthwhile. With the gospel at the center and as the foundation for working through the conflict we are then able to see conflicts are not accidents; they are opportunities to solve problems in a God honoring way and also rightly reflect the image we bear.
Ken Sande takes the opportunity to lay out the biblical model of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. However, prior to addressing these fundamental aspects of conflict resolution, the author takes the needed time to walk us through what it actually means to take the log out of our own eye. I appreciate the time he spends addressing this as I feel all too often the world and even many believers do not hold a right understanding of this scripture and thus step away from addressing conflict or dive into conflict in a self-righteous and self-serving manner. I know this because I have been guilty of it and witnessed many others exhibit this response as well.
When the author does take us into a deeper look at what the Word calls us to in repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation, I believe he carefully draws us into scripture and fleshes out what is really intended during the process of these aspects of peacemaking. He points to our responsibilities and the responsibilities which others hold within this process. These elements are key components for anyone working to resolve conflicts, big or small, in a biblical manner. In this book we are gifted vital tools in helping to resolve conflicts in a gospel-centered way and the impact of implementing these components on a regular basis into our daily lives is not only God honoring, but also life changing.
The chapter on forgiveness had the biggest impact on me. Throughout my life in the church I’ve experienced forgiveness taught in a number of ways, but none of them ever felt quite right, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong. I always felt like something was missing in the process being instructed by pastors and leaders. Over and over the scripture telling us to forgive as Christ forgave us has been repeated. So much so that many stop hearing what Christ is actually instructing and either turn a deaf ear to it or twist it up so much you’d never know it came from the Bible. This chapter provided clarity and articulated well what in fact Christ is calling Christians to within the scope of forgiveness. God has allowed me to journey through many difficult circumstances which provided the opportunity for many to inquire as to if and how I’ve forgiven those who brought hurt into my life. The author has brought greater understanding of this scripture and how we can respond lovingly. I heard it said once, “If you can’t explain it then you don’t really understand it.” Repentance and forgiveness are two areas which are essential within the Christian life and must be rightly understood.
I am grateful this book is on my shelf to refer to as needed when walking through conflicts in my own life and also to help others walk through their conflicts in a way which adheres to scripture and honors God. If you’d like to take a deeper look into biblical conflict resolution I invite you to read The Peacemaker. In addition, you are welcome to read my writings on the matter of forgiveness here.