CONFLICT CAN BE BENEFICIAL

  In those early mauve tinged hours, when sleep evades your eyes, and angry words tumble over and over in your head, you know you have a problem.   You are arguing with an invisible adversary, your mind is raging like a storm at sea, and you toss and turn in bed until you feel quite sea sick.  There is conflict in your soul!

If you are anything like me, and I am certain most of us are, you want to avoid conflict at any cost.  You despise the feelings that always seem to accompany conflict.  There is a permanent knot in your stomach, a bitter taste in your mouth, not to mention the perpetual battle going on in your heart and mind.   And then to top it all off, there is the unpleasant atmosphere that permeates the place where the conflict resides and settles like a noxious cloud that will not disperse. 

  I would do anything to avoid the issue at hand.  There are so many nicer things to do, more pleasant things to talk about, rather than confronting conflict.

As much as I would like to avoid facing the issue, I know that doing so will never diminish the problem or even make it go away.   There are a number of points we need to note about conflict.

·      CONFLICT CANNOT BE AVOIDED

Sometimes we can be naïve as Christians.  Some can think that because they love God there will never be points on which to disagree.  Wrong!  Disagreeing with one another is inevitable because we are human, complicated, and unique individuals.  How wonderful it would be, if we could learn to disagree in an agreeable manner. 

However, conflict, in my view, is more than simply disagreeing and it can get extremely complicated.  Conflict occurs when there is a clash of ideas and a rift occurs between two people. 

It is probably important to note that there were conflicts between people in the Bible.  There was a clash between Paul and Barnabus in Acts 15:39.  In fact, the conflict brought about a rift in their relationship and they parted company.  It seems that conflict is inevitable and a part of the rhythm of life.

When conflict occurs we have to remind ourselves that ignoring the elephant in the room will not diminish  the problem, neither will it make the issue go away.  What inevitably happens is that the conflict grows and bitterness and anger can fester in our soul.

·      CONFLICT MUST BE ADDRESSED

The healthiest and best relationships are those that say: We understand that because we are human conflict will arise.  When it does we will acknowledge that it is present and we will deal with it.  We choose not to ignore it!  That is wisdom.  To ignore the issue will only exacerbate the problem and that can lead to sin.

·      CONFLICT CAN HELP US TO GROW

Wow!  What a thought!  Aren’t there other ways to grow?  Of course there are.  But we know that conflict is inevitable and so we must use the occasion to learn and to grow. 

It is during the darkest times, the most difficult conversations, and the heaviest atmosphere that God’s grace can shine brightest and best.  It is in those times that we can learn to put on ‘the image of Christ.”  We don’t back down, we don’t retreat, we don’t give in, but we do allow the grace of Christ to shine from our lives.  In other words, we allow the Lord to use the opportunity for growth in our personal life and the life of the other person. 

Whatever our thoughts about the disagreement between Paul and Barnabus, it seems to me that God used the occasion in both their lives and ministry.  Disagreeing with each other is not necessarily a sin.  Parting of ways is also not always a bad thing.  In my view, God used this occasion in Paul’s life and the life of Barnabus.  John Mark  accompanied Barnabus in his ministry, and Paul chose Silas to help him, and the Gospel went forward in a new and dynamic way. 

Sometimes conflict does not necessarily resolve itself in the way we desire, but if our hearts are right, we can grow through it and the Gospel can continue to advance.

·      CONFLICT CAN MAKE US MORE CHRISTLIKE

Before I go in to the battle, I find myself doing a lot of internalizing.  I seek to ensure that I remove the log from my own eye before addressing the speck in my brother or sisters eye.  I also do a lot of praying.  I want to be certain that I go into the battle with a Christlike grace.  Difficult and truthful words will need to be spoken and ultimately I want this problem to be dealt with.

So, if you are facing conflict, my prayer is that you will have the grace to confront the elephant in the room.  Don’t run from conflict – face it head on.   Don’t allow the situation to fester in your spirit.   Time will not make it any easier.  Do not believe that lie.  The sooner you deal with the issue the more likely it is that it will be resolved.

I trust that you will have courage and grace to face the issue before you.

I am and always will be,

recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,

Carol