If you have been involved in the local church for more than 2 weeks than you are ripe for some type of conflict. To be sure, there are varying levels of conflict, however, the truth that there will be conflict amongst Christians is with us until we reside in glory. The reason for conflict is sin (James 4:1-2). We sin in what we say, what we do, what we don’t do, and how we think. Sin’s fingerprints are on everything.
We know that conflict assaults one of the most precious treasures in the church: unity. We understand from Scripture that the Holy Spirit creates unity and the church is to maintain it (Eph. 4:3). This command translated “to maintain” means to guard, keep watch, attend to. The word is used in the context of a guard with a prisoner (Mt. 28.4; Acts 12.6) but also of one keeping or observing the Sabbath (Jn. 9.16) or keeping the commandments (Jn. 14.15, 21). What’s more this is to be done with eagerness. This word communicates the diligent effort and striving associated with a priority (cf. Heb. 4.11; 2 Pet. 3.14; 2 Pet. 1.15). What we have here then is a top priority for Christians—they are to give ongoing, active, prioritization to the guarding of unity. We are to tend to it with such care because it is so valuable and so costly.
Think about this. It is quite a charge (especially for sinners).
In light of its value there is little wonder why Paul tells us to be at peace with all men (Rom. 12.18), live in harmony with one another (Rom. 12.16), urges two arguing ladies to get along (Phil. 4.2), and encourages thoughtful introspection–in light of unity, before taking the Lord’s Table (1 Cor. 11.17-20ff). Jesus himself seems to prize reconciliation and unity at such a cost that he calls for shockingly uncomfortable steps to bring about restoration:
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23–24)