Read Galatians 2
Focus on verse 11
Conflict is inevitable anytime more than one human is involved in any given project. How that conflict is resolved very often determines whether the project succeeds or fails. One would think that with how common conflict is, most of us would soon become experts in conflict resolution, however, a simple observation of the world around us soon dispels this theory.
In today’s reading we encounter one of the rare occasions where the scripture records an occurrence of conflict between, of all people, two Apostles. Paul describes how he confronted Peter in Antioch regarding what apparently was a double standard.
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. (v. 11)
Paul apparently observed that Peter freely ate with the Gentile believers until certain Jewish believers from Jerusalem arrived and began to separated themselves from the Gentiles. Paul immediately, and it would seem from the context, publicly calls Peter to account of the hypocrisy of this action. There are two things I notice in the way this is described that I believe make this confrontation effective as well as productive. Paul is direct without sounding terse in his confrontation, and both Paul’s confrontation as well as Peter’s response maintain respect for the other party.
I suspect that one of the secrets to effective conflict resolution is simply speaking the truth in love. There are times when we find it difficult to be truthful in an effort to protect either ourselves or those to who we are speaking, however, withholding the truth generally has the opposite effect in the final analysis. There are other times when we find it entirely too gratifying to speak the truth knowing full well we are not speaking it in love. Neither of these situations contribute to the resolution of conflict, but rather tend to exacerbate it. When the truth is spoken with respect and genuine love, an immediate solution may not be guaranteed, however, it will almost always preserve the relationship, and most likely move the conflict towards a viable resolution.