Conflict is not fun. We all know this, because this is why we shy away from creating conflict. Sometimes creating conflict, however, is the best way to show love.
Christ and Conflict
Jesus intentionally created conflict.
- The law of the Pharisees said healing was work and, therefore, should not be done on a Sunday. Jesus healed anyways right in front of them.
- Any form of harvesting grain was forbidden on the Sabbath, yet Jesus allowed the disciples to pluck and eat grain as they walked.
- The temple leaders allowed selling animals and other commerce in the temple courts. Jesus made a whip, flipped tables, and rebuked them.
- At one point Jesus proclaimed that his followers would need to eat his flesh and drink his blood.
Why did the Prince of Peace create so much conflict?
Today we do not see creating conflict as Christ-like, but nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus created conflict often. He created a different kind of conflict, however, than we often create.
We are most familiar with un-Christ-like conflict. We argue and fight because our expectations are not met, we say unkind things because we are angry, we take what is not ours. We armchair quarterback life, proclaiming how we would do things differently and how much better life would be if everyone did things our way.
We are selfish, prideful people. Jesus was not.
Jesus never argued selfishly, snapped angrily at someone, or felt like he was entitled to anything. He never got upset because one of his expectations was not met, and he never said, “I told you so.”
Jesus used conflict as a tool to initiate healthy change in people’s lives and to open people’s eyes to truth.
- Jesus healed on the Sabbath because the Pharisees had turned a day of rest into a burden.
- Jesus allowed his disciples to pluck grain on the Sabbath because the Pharisees were more focused on outward obedience than on inward surrender.
- Jesus drove the money changers and business people out of the temple because the leaders were more concerned about making money than they were on prayer and the health of people’s hearts.
- Jesus told his followers to eat his flesh and drink his blood because he knew that many of his followers were only there for the show.
Creating Conflict Correctly
Proverbs 27:6 (AMP) says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful.”
Sometimes the only way forward in life requires conflict. That conflict may be difficult, but it is the only way to resolve an issue. According to this proverb we prove ourselves to be true friends when we are not afraid to wound our friends. An enemy will try to cover over an issue and brush it under the rug in order to keep things pleasant and enjoyable.
I have to admit that many times I have been more of an enemy than a friend because I was too afraid to bring up a difficult issue. I valued my own comfort more than the health of a situation.
- When we are offended and we are not able to resolve it internally within a short period of time, God calls us to speak up about how we were offended. The discussion may be hard and uncomfortable, but if the conflict is handled with grace and humility the result will be a healthier relationship.
- When a co-worker does not follow through on an assignment, we love them best and we are better businesspeople when we go directly to them and speak about it.
- When we are leading a rehearsal and someone messes up a part, everyone needs us to step up and kindly correct the mistake.
Conflict is necessary for growth, and when we avoid conflict we are impeding our growth and the growth of everyone involved.
Two notes are in order.
- Do not create conflict with a person who has proven to react in an abusive way physically, verbally, or emotionally. Get counsel and help in those situations before engaging the person at fault.
- Remember that a problem usually has two parts, which means that we must always remain humble and willing to own our part of the problem, no matter how small.