Since my very first formal mediation, over 20 years ago at Salem Alliance Church, I’ve seen how godly repentance and forgiveness restores broken relationships. The gospel was good news 2000 years ago, and it is still good news today. Over the next few months I’m going to explore that place where conflict, relationships, and the gospel intersect.
In the midst of the 1993 Los Angeles race riots, which led to 53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, and nearly a billion dollars in financial losses, Rodney King famously implored, “Why can’t we all just get along?” Well, why can’t we all just get along? Why do people consistently respond to hurts and offenses with anger, rage, revenge, slander, abuse and harsh judgments?
It’s widely acknowledged that the primary cause of the riots was not the acquittal of the police officers who arrested Rodney King; rather, the acquittal ripped the lid off racial tensions that been simmering for years. The court verdict revealed what had been there all along. King was simply asking the same question we’ve all asked in the face of any sort of conflict.
Analysts found the riots rooted in all sorts of racial, sociological and economic injustices. And at one level this was true. But at the deepest level, the cause of the Los Angeles race riots was no different than that of any other conflict: our sinful, prideful, self-serving hearts. I engage in conflict, you engage in conflict, and the Los Angeles rioters engaged in conflict because it’s our nature.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it (James 4:1-2). As the Apostle Paul so eloquently says in his letter to the church in Rome, we are all under the curse of sin.
There is no one righteous, not even one… Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are quick to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know (Romans 3:10-17).
That, Rodney King, is why we don’t all just get along.
It is precisely at this point of hopelessness that God came in. And He literally came in. The incarnate Son of God entered the world with the good news of eternal and all-encompassing reconciliation and peace. He didn’t just tell the good news; He was and is the good news. Jesus came to reverse the curse of sin.
The good news, the gospel, is that those of us who are in Christ have a fully restored relationship with our Heavenly Father. We are literally adopted into His family. But the gospel doesn’t stop there. Within our new adopted family, God also calls and empowers us to be reconciled with each other. The gospel brings a tidal wave of grace and restoration that flows from God, through us, and into all of our relationships.
God’s answer to Rodney King is His answer to all of us. In Christ we have the unity we seek – and it is far more than tolerance. It is the rich and eternal unity found only in Christ.
There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:4-5).
Before joining The Alliance as Alliance conciliation specialist, Gary Friesen served at Peacemaker Ministries overseeing all mediation cases, as executive vice president, and finally as acting CEO. Gary has taught biblical peacemaking, mediation, and arbitration across the globe. He is passionate about seeing people everywhere experience the redemptive power of the Gospel in their relationships.