Five Preliminary Perspectives On Conflict

This is an excerpt from an article by Tim Lane. Find the full article here.

None of us live in a world where conflict does not exist. It is unavoidable. Since that is the case, it makes sense to face the fact that you will have conflict. Admitting this opens the door for conflict to become a redemptive opportunity to mature in Christ. Some basic perspectives can help us as we tackle the tough issues involved.


1. The Bible is a story with conflict as a central theme 

Conflict is not necessarily bad. In fact, there is a way to do conflict that is pleasing to God. One theme that runs from Genesis to Revelation is the theme of conflict and war—and God is the warrior! He battles against the darkness and chaos of sin and suffering. Ultimately, Jesus joins the fight and gets bloody and dies. But he emerges as victor over the forces of darkness through his death and resurrection. He opens the way for enemies like us to be forgiven and reconciled to him and then invites us to join him in battle. Ephesians 6:10-20 calls Christians to take up arms against sin and darkness in the same way Jesus did: through humility, love, and self-sacrifice. We are promised that one day Jesus will return, not riding on a donkey as in his first coming, but riding a white stallion. He will come to finish his redemptive work of conflict once for all.

2. Conflict is an opportunity

 James 1:2-4 says that trials are an opportunity to grow. Most of us think of conflict as something to avoid, but conflict is a trial that gives us an opportunity to grow in tremendous ways. In fact, James says that without such trials, we will remain immature, incomplete, and lacking many godly character qualities. While conflict will rarely be fun, it should be seen as an opportunity to grow in grace.

3. The person with whom we are in conflict is there for a divine purpose. 

When a conflict is severe, this idea can be hard to swallow. But the truth remains. God, who is sovereign, loving, and wise, sends people into our lives so that he might work in us in ways that can only happen in conflict. Remembering this truth protects us from demonizing the person in conflict with us. Even if the person is truly evil, sinning in malicious ways, we do not have the option to demonize him, write him off, and view him as beyond the reach of God’s redeeming grace. Only God can see these things.

4. There will be times when we will reach an impasse in conflict. 

Being realistic does not minimize our responsibility, but it does remind us that not all conflict will be resolved this side of Christ’s return. In Acts 15:36-41, Paul and Barnabas disagreed over whether John Mark should accompany them on Paul’s second missionary journey. Barnabas and John Mark went their way together while Paul and Silas went in another direction. There will be times when we too will be limited in our ability to reconcile with others. We should not let this be an excuse to stop trying to resolve our differences. But it does remind us that we are limited in our ability to change others.

5. We must get to the heart of conflict. 

Without this emphasis, we minimize the conflict, settle for quick solutions that don’t last, and avoid the hard work of godly self-examination where God wants to see us grow. When we stay on the surface and avoid looking honestly at ourselves, we bypass the centrality of the gospel and our need for Christ’s grace.

To understand the cause of ungodly conflict and grow towards godly conflict read the full article here.