Resolving Conflict: Paul and Appiah Agree

Screenshot from The Bible Project’s animated video about Philippians

This week, the women in Monday Morning Group studied how Paul in chapter 4 of Philippians, advises how to resolve conflict.

  • get to a good emotional place yourself (i.e. gratitude, praise)
  • then focus ONLY on what’s good.

Recently the New York Times ethicist, Kwame Anthony Appiah, gave similar advice when he addressed the Friends of the Princeton University Library. To speak with someone with whom you disagree:  ‘first find what you agree on.’  It also helps, he added if you are engaged in some kind of community activity, like coaching a Little League team.

Details: Paul begins by pleading with two contentious women to “be of the same mind” and calls on others in the group to help them. He continues: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Steve Harper in the lectionary study of the Upper Room book,  Disciplines, explains: “Paul counsels the believers to work for emotional stability. He commends a renewal of gladness and gentleness and an elimination of anxiety brought about through earnest prayer. He knows that very little is changed when we live in the whirlwind of negativity. We don’t think straight. We don’t respond well when we are engulfed by deformative feelings. Paul points to the big Bible word ‘peace’ as the goal for which to aim in reconciliation.”

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Harper continues: “Second, he exhorts the Christians at Philippi to seek edifying soundness… to think of things that are excellent and admirable. Often, reconciliation occurs not by coming to complete agreement but by deciding that the things that unite us are more important than those that divide us. We come together along the lines of common commitments. When we get it wrong through disagreements, we are often reunited through our core convictions and common pursuits.”

DOES THIS MEAN we need more “common pursuits, sports teams, work teams, common projects” Maybe!

For a link to this very informative animated video about the book of Philippians, click here 

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