There seems to be a lot of dissention, conflict and protest going on these days. Riots and protest are common on the streets of St Louis. Athletes and others are taking a knee or displaying some type of disobedience during the National Anthem. Relationships are severed over political views. It just seems than division and conflict has infiltrated our daily lives. Even our churches are not immune. It is in our human nature to be right. We all want to win. We all want to be right. We all want things the way we want them and we will go to various lengths to convince others to join us. Sometimes we try to discredit the truth so it fits our agenda. Sometimes we withhold money, affection, or care because the other person is not on the same side of the issue than us. Sometimes we can't help ourselves and get dragged in. In our society, publically we can just delete, unfriend, unfollow, and sever all relationship with someone if we fail to get them to see our view point. We easily disguise our need for control under the banner of longevity, loyalty, and entitlement. In the end, we usually end up hurting the one thing we confess our love for the most.
So what do we do and where can we go? When we take a position of protest we only have two options: to attack or defend. When conflicts arise we are forced to attack the opposition and defend our own stance. When we are constantly on offence or defense there is no room for resolution or reconciliation. So we first must listen. We must listen for understanding, compassion, and insight. Most of us listen to respond, rebuttal, or to find loopholes to prove our point. So we need to be aware of our motive and ability to truly listen.
Conflict most importantly is a spiritual problem. Conflict is a love issue. We all can love and still disagree. We all will have different of opinions, tastes, and preferences. That is the beauty of love and diversity. To each is their own, with no pretense or jealousy, which enriches both sides but diminishes neither. Paul warns us in Colossians 3:13-14 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on LOVE, which binds us all together in perfect unity. When we feed into conflict we forget that God has forgiven us. We damage the Body of Christ known as the church. We tarnish what we confess to love so dearly. We allow the one thing that attracts us to one another be the thing that attacks us.
One thing we can all agree on is no one really likes conflict. It is exhausting and comprises our character. As a faith community we can all do better. As a nation we can do better. As a community, we can do better. As followers of Christ we can do better. We all must be willing to listen for reconciliation, exhibit compassion, and humble ourselves so that pride can allow forgiveness to heal. We can fight to be right but be all alone at the end of the day. We can fight to protect and destroy what we cherish. We can forsake all others and never experience diversity. We can protest and miss opportunities to grow, learn, and understand each other. We can nurture conflict but never experience the fullness of God’s love blossom in unity. What is attractive to all people? A faith community where people listen to one another, where conflict is resolved respectfully, where everyone is valued and cherished, and where love and unity wins out. That place is the church. If we strive on conflict, we just might lose the one thing or one person we love the most.
Take Care of Yourself and Love One Another: