Going back almost 20 years while I was in seminary, I was asked to read a book titled “The Peacemaker” by Ken Sande. At first I was very skeptical. I had seen and heard a lot of formulas on relationships that seemed to me to be rather shallow or trite. While I read this book at the time, I didn’t pay much attention to what I was reading. I read it because I had to. It wasn’t until I found myself working full-time as a pastor that I took a second look. As a pastor, I was exposed to a world of conflict and was also watching as the tension in the relationship between my parents was growing. I was desperate for answers while living in a world of hurt.
As I read his book over again, I discovered that Sande’s approach was not new at all. In fact, what I found was that it was really quite simple. His approach was more than biblical, it was gospel-focused.
The book does not read like a fiction novel. Some might call it reference material. However it reads much easier then a dictionary or a commentary. In fact it is a very easy read. In the book, Sande takes us from the very beginning of a conflict to the end. At the start he talks about what it means to be a peace maker. He then moves into the area where conflict begins – our hearts. He writes about what issues are worth fighting over and what aren’t. He also writes about the importance of looking at our faults before challenging others with theirs.
The next step in the book is interesting. He moves into the area of confession and repentance. One of my favorite parts of the book is the short list that he provides – The Seven A’s of confession. For healing of relationships, repentance must always be included. Having addressed the subject of confession and repentance, he moves into the very difficult subject of forgiveness.
Reading what Ken Sande has to say about forgiveness has been monumental for me. In dealing with this subject, Sande offers us another favorite of mine – a short list which he calls the “Four Promises of Biblical Forgiveness”.
Believe it or not, there actually is a debate on the subject of forgiveness. Some would argue that any time someone has offended us that we should forgive, regardless if they have repented or not. While others would suggest that forgiveness is cheapened by offering it without repentance. Whatever opinion you might hold, I would strongly encourage you to read what Sande has to say on the subject. Lets just say that this famous quote from the theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer is very fitting:
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
There is good reason for us to listen to what Ken Sande has to say. Even though Sande was originally trained as a mechanical engineer, he eventually went on to train as a lawyer. Lawyers surely know a little something about conflict. After getting his law degree, Sande tells us that God moved him away from the engineering field and into the area of conflict management, mediation and conciliation. He has since worked with hundreds of churches and mediated countless conflicts. As you read his book, you can see the wisdom of his experience and biblical knowledge on just about every page.
Ken Sande’s book guides us in the right direction for healing in our relationships. I would encourage you to read it for yourself, then assess how much you really know about conflict.