Generally speaking, most people have a distaste for conflict and change. There may be some exceptions. But I for one am not. I know what I like and I am very comfortable with that. For instance: I like Reese’s Peanut Butter Blizzards from Dairy Queen. When we go out for ice cream, it may cross my mind to try the Blizzard of the month. But, more often than not, I end up getting my Reese Blizzard. And if something this insignificant is hard to change, you can imagine how hard it is for me to change in bigger issues of life.

But as much as I hate to admit it, change and conflict are inevitable in life. However, something that brings me reassurance is that God ordains both conflict and change for His glory and our good. This statement may come as a surprise to some. It may even strike others as erroneous–especially since conflict, in particular, is viewed as a negative or possibly even a sinful thing. However, this statement is grounded in the Bible’s overarching, redemptive narrative as well as its specific teaching of God’s sovereignty.

Currently, I am taking a seminary class entitled Leading Through Change and Conflict. Thus far, the class has helped me see how to approach these realities in a different light. It also is preparing my heart to navigate change in my life, my family’s life, and our church’s life. We have been talking about the Pastoral Transition Plan here at Bethel for the past month or so. The word “transition” automatically implies change. The word “plan” also implies an expected outcome. But there are also many factors along the way–some of which are not known to me, the other leaders at Bethel, or to the church as a whole. Therefore, I do not want to be presumptuous as if I know the outcome of these unknown factors. Nor do I want to be anxious over things I have absolutely no control over. Rather, it would be better to embrace the opportunity to lean into the discomfort of change in order to lean on our unchangeable God.

This week, I finished a paper for this class entitled A Theology of Conflict and Change. The big idea of the paper is this: God ordains both conflict and change. Most of the paper is a defense of the idea from the overall narrative of the Bible. I conclude the paper giving a couple of ways this truth can affect our lives as Christians: (1) God is present and at work in our conflict and change.[1] Therefore, (2) God can be made much of in how we navigate conflict and change.[2] The exercise of writing this paper was sharpening for me and I pray the overflow of this would sharpen you and bless our church as well. If you would be interested in taking 10-15 minutes to read the paper to see my argument, explanation, and application, feel free to read it here.

May God be glorified in our lives and in our church as we navigate through things that may make us uncomfortable, leaning upon Him who is our all sufficient, unchanging God. – Pastor Matt

[1] Alfred Poirier, The Peacemaking Pastor: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Church Conflict (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006), 56-57.

[2] Poirier, The Peacemaking Pastor, 36-37.

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