Monday, January 25, 2010

Conflict is unavoidable, not undesirable

I’m not a guy who particularly enjoys conflict. It’s rare that I feel compelled to get up in somebody’s face. I hate those awkward moments where I struggle to find just the right words to say to delicately approach a touchy subject. I would much rather that people just got along.

And there’s the rub: people don’t just get along. Everyone has their own personal history, their own personality, their own likes and dislikes. What seems common to me seems strange to you, what is “normal” to you is “different” to somebody else. And those differences ensure that sooner rather than later people will come into conflict with somebody else. Now, add the fact of everyone also having their own struggles with sin, and we’ve got a grand recipe for conflict to brew. Conflict is unavoidable.

But that doesn’t mean that conflict is automatically undesirable. Look at what I just said: conflict is often generated by personal differences. That means, for starters, that conflict is an opportunity to get to know someone on a deeper level than you did before. You can find out their passions, what affects them strongly, what moves them like nothing else does. Conflict provides an opportunity for intimate knowledge of another human being.

Deeper than that, though, is this strange truth: Conflict—when exacerbated by sin—provides an opportunity for Christian intimacy and fellowship like nothing else can, because it provides an opportunity for you to actually forgive a brother or sister in Christ for their sin and humbly receive their forgiveness for yours, as well. And in that, what was formerly a lamentable division in the Body of Christ becomes an amazing testimony to Christ’s ability to not only reconcile us to God, but to one another. Conflict, when healed, results in the Body experiencing greater Christian fellowship than it had before.

The conflict that I considered undesirable has now become indispensable.

Think of that the next time you butt heads with someone at church.

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