Reconciliation is Not Conflict Resolution

This might be rather basic, but resolving conflict is not the same as reconciliation. Some may think it’s just a matter of semantics or hair-splitting, but one is an attempt to stop the conflict and pain; the other is trying to grow forward together and therefore has to work to name the pain and repair its source. Conflict resolution can certainly lead to reconciliation, but requires more work, and often we stop short of the ministry of reconciliation.

In some respects, reconciliation is like forgiveness at a larger systemic scale. Some of the same rules apply: 1) acknowledge something has happened. 2) take a step back from the consequences of the action and think about the person; 3) release the anger, bitterness, and the resentment for your sake; 4) forgive the other for their sake; 5) if possible, share that you have forgiven the other; 6) let trust build back up again naturally. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget; it means they are free and so are we.

Reconciliation goes a step further by ensuring that a healthy relationship grows. Therefore, like the act of forgiveness, it cannot remain passive or run away from pain; it must enter pain and re-enter areas of discomfort. In order to restore, much like rehabilitating an old house, there is often a tearing away of the upper layer in order to get to a firmer foundation, a cleaner base, so that the whole house may be deemed livable for many. It is not a cease-fire. It is not a “live, and let live” mentality. Reconciliation is not always compromise although it can start there, but it desires much more. Unlike the poster above, “no war, no trouble, no more” is not enough for reconciliation. Reconciliation is only satisfied when we can truly embrace one another. Conflict resolution is only the first step in reconciliation. Reconciliation is conflict resolution all the way down to your soul.

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About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come. View all posts by David Park

2 responses to “Reconciliation is Not Conflict Resolution

  • Randy Haglund

    Well said, David!! After over 25 years of walking through conflict with people, I have found that believers in the church are the most difficult to work with. 1) They believe they have a corner on the truth. 2) Believers can rationalize themselves out of anything. 3) By and large, almost always, each sides “Truth” ends up having very little if anything to do with reality. Until they get over themselves and take on a different perspective will anything begin to change. I like Peacemakers first move: Take the perspective of seeking how God can be glorified in the midst of such turmoil.

  • Maurice Pastor Moe Evans

    This is great, I am so in agreement with this. I have been saying for years “peace” is NOT the same as a Cease-Fire. Thanks for this brother.

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