We've been saved by Jesus Christ- saved from a life warped by sin, and we're putting on the new self of truth and light. Being saved, finding our identity in Christ- it changes everything about us.
Including how we deal with conflict. Conflict is rather inevitable, after all. We are humans, and humans deal with conflict, even the most pious of Christians.
Before we can decide how to deal with our differences in God honoring ways, we need to explore what conflict is and where it comes from.
The first, and most obvious source of conflict I see in my own life is conflict that arises when I am wronged. It happens, you know? Whether it is accidental or intentional, people are people, and they're going to sin against us.
Of course, conflict also comes up when I think I'm being wronged. I know that one of my particular struggles is assuming the best about people. My husband says something that hurts my feelings? Well! He's obviously insensitive and rude towards me- it couldn't possibly be because he didn't know my feelings would be hurt, or because he's had a difficult day. My friend doesn't call me back? She's not very considerate! Unless she's stuck in traffic or had to work late. So many of those perceived wrongs simply come about because of miscommunication or differing expectations.
And then there's conflict that is really just due to my own sin. An issue inside my own heart.
"What causes quarrels and fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war withing you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you argue."- James 4:1-2Yep. That. Maybe (hopefully!) we don't get so far as to murder anyone, but when I envy someone else, when there is jealousy in my heart, conflicts come up. The other person isn't the issue, in these cases. My heart is the issue.
We know that conflicts are different based on who is involved. A conflict with a co-worker looks very different than a conflict with my best friend. The people who are closest to us are often those with whom we have the very worst conflicts.
After all, when we are have a problem with someone, we're really showing our own hearts. A conflict with a co-worker may not become as heated because, well, we don't really want to be so vulnerable with them.
Conflicts reveal quite a bit about me. They reveal our own sin, our own selfishness and self-centered-ness. Conflict doesn't cause these things, it just reveals them. If you jump into a muddy puddle, you'll get muddy. What splashes out is exactly what was there all along.
So think. What's splashing out in your life? When a conflict comes up, how do you deal with it? Do you get muddy?
As Christians, we need to honor God in all things, including (and maybe especially!) our conflicts.