by April Bayer
Students, faculty, and community members filled the TLEC Auditorium on April 12 to listen to a three-person panel called Confronting in Love: A Friendship Panel discuss friendship and conflict resolution from a Christian perspective.
Panelists included Assistant Professor of Theology Rev. Dr. Dirk Reek; Chaplain, Campus Pastor and Theology Instructor Rev. Ryan Matthias; and Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach Marty Kohlwey. Senior Joel Marquardt served as the panel’s moderator.
Conversation centered on Matthew 18:15-18, which describes how Christians are meant to approach conflict.
One of the first questions the panel addressed was how Christians should handle conflict with friends, family members and fellow believers.
“When you’re in conflict with someone [you can approach it in] one of two ways,” Kohlwey said. “The first is to automatically respond with your sinful nature. The other is to choose a ministry model which [involves] understanding the motivation in your heart.”
The panel then went on to discuss the danger of immediately acting on emotions and accusing another person.
“Sin is not merely moral wrong. It is distance,” Reek said. “When I’m distant from someone, I’m an object to them, and they’re an object to me. That’s not what I’m called to be in baptism. I’m a person.”
This raised the question of whether or not Christians should approach disagreements with nonbelievers differently than they would with other Christians.
The panel members explained that, according to the Bible, Christians should always take a gentle and loving approach to conflict and remind both nonbelievers and fellow Christians of the Gospel.
The panel also addressed the importance of staying united within the church.
“We need each other, earnestly and desperately. Satan wants to divide us,” Reek said.
The panel members also offered several strategies for successfully resolving conflict. Suggestions included refraining from posting angry comments on social media, communicating one-on-one in a private place, avoiding accusatory statements and bringing in a mediator if necessary.
“This discussion came at [things] from a Biblical point of view,” sophomore Lindsey Sampson said. “So often, we think the Bible is impractical, like it doesn’t give us real advice…but it does. God wants us to pursue peace in his way, not our way.”
Concordia’s Director of Christian Education (DCE) practicum students hosted the panel and a reception afterward in which students could enjoy snacks and discuss what they learned in small groups.