Read: “When You Need Forgiveness”—Quiet Spaces, page 185
Somewhere, we got the idea that any kind of conflict is bad. We feel uncomfortable and ill at ease when it occurs. Most of us treat conflict with two options: avoid it at all costs or ignore it when it happens.
Yet, from the moment when God created human beings and gave them free will, conflict became a reality in personal relationships. Adam and Eve weren’t long in the garden before they were engaged in a conflict over whether or not to eat the forbidden fruit. Throughout the ages, the Christian church has been divided over differing beliefs and ways of worshiping. Not only Christians but also most religions from Islam to Judaism suffer from dissenting splinter groups and sects. On a larger scale, the world is being torn apart by multiple conflicts that seem to escalate without any kind of resolution.
No wonder we see conflict as a bad thing.
And then there’s Jesus’ admonition to “turn the other cheek.” How does this affect the way we view conflict? Do you feel guilty when you have that angry thought, that dart of annoyance with someone, or the desire to stand up and “tell it like it is”? Does it seem to you that engaging in conflict of any kind is in direct disobedience to your duty as a Christian?
What if I told you that Jesus had his own conflicts? Think of the number of times he encountered the opposition of the Pharisees. He didn’t back down; he refuted what they had to say and stood up for himself. Or how about the story of Jesus throwing the money lenders out of the temple? That sounds like conflict to me, and in this story, Jesus didn’t just say, “Go away” – he took action. What does that say to you?
The bad news is that conflict is inevitable in your life. No matter how hard you try to walk away from a conflict, it just keeps presenting itself to you. There comes a moment when you have to deal with it. The good news is that you don’t have to deal with it alone.
Begin with prayer. Acknowledge how you feel about the situation. Ask God to show you why you feel the way you do. Often the reason for an emotion has nothing to do with the present circumstance but is based on an event or experience from some other place or time in your life.
Pray earnestly for the person(s) and circumstances that are causing the conflict, asking the Holy Spirit to mediate between you and them. Ask for God’s wisdom to deal with the conflict in a positive way. Expect blessings to come from this conflict, and thank God for them.