I recently joined twitter after many years of conflicted avoidance. And I thought missionaries could fight. Wow. Twitter seems custom-designed to bring out the pugnacious side of the human heart. You know, the part that loves to lob verbal grenades and smash metaphorical bar chairs over others’ heads in a saloon. The global population lockdowns have probably made this worse. After all, fighting is better than doing nothing, as my Central Asian friends say, in a jaded logic that most of the world would probably agree with.
But we are those who know that the peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God (Matt 5:9). Still, we often find ourselves in need of practical spiritual help to not quarrel and fight, even if we’ve been believers for many years. Otherwise, why would Paul exhort Timothy regarding the relatively sound Ephesian church, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling“? All kinds of believers struggle in these ways. Yes, even pastors, theologians, and missionaries need to be reminded of these things. I need to be reminded of these things.
In this vein, I have found the doctrine of believers’ future resurrection to be a trustworthy friend and ally when I am tempted to fight and argue with other believers. This doctrine is the biblical teaching that when Christ returns he will raise the dead to life and believers will be given new, spiritual bodies. We are given fascinating hints of what this will be like in the scriptures. Passages like Daniel 12:13, which says that “those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the sky above; And those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” This future resurrected existence will not only include freedom from sin, but also a transformation such that believers will shine with glory, honor, and beauty. We will be clothed with a physical form fitting for the new heavens and new earth and for beholding the face of God. Resurrected humanity will be stunning, apparently even higher in glory than the angels.
This is true of my teammate. This is true of my supervisor. This is true of that messy new believer who keeps self-destructing. This is true of my spouse. This is true of that social media warrior who took that sentence out of context and is causing all kinds of digital mayhem. In spite of this present frustration, one day we will be sitting together on the banks of New Zion’s river, sipping heaven’s equivalent of cold brew and laughing together, filled with holy delight in one another’s glory and in the glory of the Lamb. Our friendship will be perfected.
Sometimes I imagine scenes like this when I’m about to head into a hard meeting or when I have to respond to a tense email or text. This use of biblically-informed imagination helps me to approach my brother or sister in Christ in a better posture, one informed by their future glory. I am better able to love my fellow believer and to speak and listen appropriately as I let our future resurrected friendship bleed into this present conflict.
If you are looking for practical, but biblical strategies for peace-making in the midst of conflict, for dealing with that frustrating relationship, consider turning your imagination toward the coming resurrection. There is some untapped power there that could be of some real help.