Many times the enemy takes delight when we get hurt and give up on each other. However, our Lord commands us to deny Satan that joy and satisfaction by forgiving one another and exhibiting deep love and compassion. Last week's article ended with a comparison between the prolonged and formal way which characterises resolving disputes, with the flexibility that the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) promotes.
Today, as we end the address on The Christian Perspective on Alternative Dispute Resolution, by Mrs. Efua Ghartey, let us die to self and allow the Holy Spirit to enable us to be real channels of God's peace.
A mediation week was declared in Ghana from 7 to 11 April 2003. This was the first organized Court connected ADR held in Ghana. A number of trained mediators were mandated to mediate cases in various District Courts in Accra.
Out of 250 cases that were submitted to medication, 187 cases were settled. Having participated in the exercise, I can testify to the sense of relief the disputants felt when a matter was resolved. Their profound thanks alone bore testimony to the fact that a burden had indeed been lifted off them in a short space of time and in a peaceful atmosphere. Parties hugged each other or shook hands to signify the restoration of a strained relationship. The icing of the cake was the registration of a marriage to the Registrar-General's department of two disputants who had submitted a dispute in their relationship to mediation. The mediator who facilitated the settlement of the dispute was the guest of the function.
Indeed, one could not help but agree more with the Psalmist in Psalm 133:1 where he remarked “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! … For there, the Lord commanded the blessing – life forevermore.” The Bible has, apart from stating general principles for the resolution of disputes, given specific guidelines. In Matthew 5:23-26, one such procedure is outlined.
Jesus advised that no religious observance is of greater significance than reconciliation. Therefore even a wronged neighbour has to be appeased before any religious observance is acceptable before God. This is a profound guideline, yet it is more often than not flouted by Christians because they are more interested in doing what others expect them to do publicly than what God expects of them privately.
Jesus continues in verse 25 that one should quickly agree with one's adversary before a case goes through the full length of a trial and judgment is given against one. After judgment, imprisonment may await one. Once you submit to the law, and it convicts you, you have no alternative but to do what the law requires of you. Christians should guard against prompting others to go before the law courts to litigate when other remedies are available.
Further advice is given in 1 Corinthians 6: 1-11 as to what a Christian should do if a dispute arises. Paul obviously expresses his disgust when in speaking to the subject he starts by saying: “Dare any of you having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous and not before the Saints?”
Paul had difficulty in understanding how Christians who will judge the world and angels should drag matters to secular courts for adjudication. To Paul alternative dispute resolution amongst Christians is superior to pagan verdicts. The proliferation of lawsuits against each other in the Christian circles in Corinth represented an utter failure of Christian brotherly love. Echoing what Jesus preached in Matthew 5:39, Paul writes: “But I tell you not to try to get even with a person who had done something to you. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?
These are questions Christians should keep asking themselves. How do we measure up to the standard set for us?
In the instances where the resolution of the disputes is discussed the underlying characteristics of the ADR process can clearly be seen- a reconciliatory, peaceful process full of compromises. As Christians, the world is looking up to us to lead the way, to set the example. Fortunately for us we have Christ's example to emulate. Actions which demonstrate the regenerated person are required of us.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describes the possibilities that grace opens to those who surrender fully to the rule of God. Jesus sums it all up when He says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” - Matthew 5:9. Let us do likewise.
Let us end this beautiful piece on Alternative Dispute Resolution with another wonderful exposition on the subject of Reconciliation by Oswald Chambers in his classic daily devotional “MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST”.
Sin is a fundamental relationship; it is not wrong doing, it is wrong being, deliberate and emphatic independence of God. The Christian religion bases everything on the positive radical nature of sin. Other religions deal with sins; the Bible alone deals with sin. The first thing Jesus Christ faced in men was the heredity of sin, and it is because we have ignored this in our presentation of the Gospel that the message of the gospel has lost its sting and its blasting power.
The revelation of the Bible is not that Jesus Christ took upon Himself our fleshly sins, but that He took upon Himself the heredity of sin which no man can touch. God made His own Son to be sin that He might make the sinner a saint. All through the Bible it is revealed that Our Lord bore the sin of the world by identification, not by sympathy. He deliberately took upon His own shoulders, and bore in His own Person, the whole massed sin of the human race – “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin'” and by so doing He put the whole human race on the basis of redemption. Jesus Christ rehabilitated the human race; He put it back to where God designed it to be, and anyone can enter into union with God on the ground of what our Lord has done on the cross.
A man cannot redeem himself; Redemption is God's “bit,” it is absolutely finished and complete; its reference to individual finished and complete; its reference to individual men is a question of their individual action. A distinction must always be made between the revelation of redemption and the conscious experience of salvation in a man's life.
“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn't it the whole army of evil desires at war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can't possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don't have what you want is that you don't get it because your whole motive is wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure” James 41-3. Stay Blessed