I see them all the time – those darling little boys with pudgy cheeks and sparkling eyes who look like angels. Then, in a matter of minutes, those same sweet boys can turn into a beasts who scream and throw things at their sister! Adults too… siblings, co-workers, neighbors, aunties, uncles…. my own beloved spouse!… can morph into ugly, peculiar foes.
What is the source of these conflicts and squabbles?
Brandan Thomas reminded us on Sunday that we live in a world full of conflict. We may long for beauty and happily-ever-after endings, but our dreamy ideals may actually be causing us sorrow and dissatisfaction.
Ever since the Fall, when humans decided to take charge rather than trust God, we have not been able to live in peace with each other. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the angry men and women, gossips, and greedy people who stir up conflict. When I read through the book, I can readily think of the fools I know. They should pay attention. Wait a minute… I too have the capacity to be that fool! I can be a mixture of the heavenly and the hellish.
Some of us try to avoid conflict altogether, but that can lead to some ineffective people-pleasing; there is no way to love people and avoid conflict. However, when we trust God in faith, we are introduced to his grace and wisdom. The Holy Spirit indwells us, and the love of God is poured out within our hearts. While we were enemies, Christ humbled himself and reconciled us to God and to other people. (See Romans 5:1-11)
The New Testament describes the conciliatory work of Christ. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:13-14 NIV). Even the greatest conflicts between long-time enemies are resolved through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Conflict calls for humility. You… or I… just might be wrong. Hatefulness, fits, jealousy, and envy might come easily, but they will not accomplish the purposes of God. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23). Since we live by the Spirit, let’s walk by the Spirit and display the love and goodness of God to our brothers and sisters.