I've just finished "The End of Conflict" by Andy Johnson. This was a book I looked forward to reading, and I wasn't disappointed. In my opinion, the area of conflict, and how we should deal with it as Christians, is not dealt with very well in the Church today. It is either ignored, or spoken of in ways which are far less Biblical than we would like to think.
The book begins with the beginning, as Johnson brings us to creation, the world without conflict, and the God who is the God of Shalom. These chapters are fascinating, as we begin to see some conflict in the Bible that we might be more comfortable glossing over. In particular, we see how God dealt with conflict in many ways. This suggests that perhaps we aren't to deal with conflict the same way in every situation.
Then the author deals with the question of conflict, and what it is. I wouldn't have thought this was important to discuss, but as I read through the chapters on conflict, I was convinced otherwise. Not only have we misunderstood God and His relationship to conflict, but we have often misunderstood conflict itself. We say that conflict is a result of personalities, situations, etc., rather than saying it like it is; conflict is a result of sin. His end definition of conflict is this:
"A conflict is the presence of a broken relationship that has resulted form the commission of sinful actions growing out of inordinate or sinful desires on the part of one party, the offender, against the other, the offended."
Want to see how he gets there? Read the book!
The next section deals with the topic of forgiveness. This is an area that we often go wrong, but if we are building on the foundation that Johnson has laid, we naturally move to a more Biblically grounded concept of forgiveness. There are some really important questions answered in this section. Does God forgive sin which isn't confessed? Is forgiveness conditional? How much should our forgiveness reflect Gods?
The final section is also intriguing. What do we do when those who have sinned against us refuse to do anything about it? What do we do when they don't confess? How are we to respond, both inwardly and outwardly? These are not easy questions, so he doesn't move quickly through the answers. Instead, we see some careful consideration of different passages which deal with just this.
All in all, a great book. I recommend it for every Christian. In particular, I believe church leaders need to hone in on this idea of conflict resolution, and how we should deal with it both Scripturally and hopefully effectively.