In the first part of this discussion, HERE, I wrote about basic principles of reconciliation and forgiveness. This is the idea of Restorative Justice, or a justice which restores parties to a right relationship.
There are two other things which set Christian mediation apart from secular mediation.
Keep disputes between Christians out of the secular courts
A second key goal of Christian mediation is to follow the Biblical mandate not to take cases between Christians before the secular courts. Bible based mediation therefore is usually structured so that parties first mediate, but they also enter into a binding agreement which provides that their dispute will be submitted to an arbitrator if they fail to agree through mediation. The arbitrator is generally a person, chosen by agreement between the parties, who is respected as an expert in both secular law and in scriptural principles.
When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers! Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? . . . So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues? But instead, one believer sues another, right in front of unbelievers! Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers (1 Corinthians 6).
Protect the Church from corruption
A third aspect of Bible based conflict resolution is so rarely applied in modern times that is it virtually nonexistent. Namely, expulsion (or excommunication) from the church. Less radical than excommunication is a type of order which requires a party to do some action in order to remain in fellowship with the Church. This type of sanction can require such things as mandatory alcohol or drug counseling, with consequences of failure to comply spelled out ahead of time.
And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established. And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the church: and if he refuses to hear the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican (Matthew 5:15).
If Biblical reconciliation is something you’d like to discuss, please use these resources to discuss it with the other person with whom you have a dispute. If you continue to have difficulty reaching agreement, feel free to discuss these principles with your pastor, or call me at 803-414-0185.
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