We live in a world where ‘friend’ means someone who can look at your pictures on Facebook, and with a click of a button we can just as quickly be ‘unfriended.’ Many times, we find ourselves being isolated in our individualized world.
We cannot control the world around us, but we can make changes in how we live our lives and how we treat others. Ask yourself this question: In my life, which do I do more often – create conflict or resolve it?
Often, the biggest threat to finding healthy community is us. We don’t know what it looks like. We don’t know how it feels. We don’t know what to do or how to pull it off.
All of us experience conflict; the healthiest people know how to resolve conflict in a peaceful way.
Romans 12 reveals four principles that can help us experience and even create healthy relationships.
1. Think differently.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will. – Romans 12:1-2
Once we follow Jesus, we are part of a new family that has a new way of relating to others. Paul is writing to say: “It doesn’t matter what your biological family did or how they related to each other; there is a new way to do things!”
Earlier in this letter to the Romans, Paul described the difference in the way he now saw things. He explained that the Gentiles were being grafted into the family of God. In a culture where the oldest male in the family was THE most important person, he mentioned the story of Jacob and Esau where the tables were turned. The younger brother received the blessing. He tricked his dad to get it, but Paul says God the Father can choose who He will love, and He always loves beyond who we want Him to love. “I will have mercy on whoever I want – including the Gentiles.”
A new way of thinking means moving from excluding others for their differences to actually inviting them into this new family. Throughout the Scriptures, we discover that those in this new family of God are to become “reconcilers” and “peacemakers.” (See 2 Corinthians 5:16-20 and Matthew 5:9)
If you are a follower of Christ, can your family and those closest to you tell by the way you treat them? Is there a difference in your relationships? Or do you continue to operate the way the world does – complain about others behind their backs with gossip, slandering others, cutting them out of your life, defriending them, and so on?