Conflict is brought about by disagreements, fights or struggles between two or more people arising as a result of differences in opinions or wishes. For as long as people share the earth, conflict will remain a part of existence because it is a fact of life. It is also an inevitable occurrence as people continue interacting. Conflict is common in any community and it really does not matter how saved one is, because there will always be conflict amongst us. On the flip side, conflict is the pathway to maturity because after one resolves a conflict, one is that much wiser to resolve a similar or more complicated one in the future. Conflict therefore remains the media for change because it sharpens and shapes us.
Conflict is brought about by the differences that we have in doing things. This is due to the fact that we all come from different backgrounds and lifestyles and therefore tend to perceive things differently. Our culture, our environments and our genetic pre-disposition greatly determines our responses. Reality means different things to different people, but based on the perceptions that they hold, conflict arises because of intolerance to each other's ways of looking at things. Our different personalities further accentuate this problem.
Our differences in vision and beliefs are strongly based on where we are coming from and where we see ourselves going; this unfortunately means that conflict will arise from these very disparities. Further more we all prefer different colors, have different tastes and like certain brands of things and not others. The greatest test of tolerance, however, comes from our different temperaments which strongly determine how we take in what has been said to us. Ironically, conflict arises from our very God-given uniqueness as human beings
Conflict has several triggers. When we are tired, sick, depressed, hungry, in a hurry or even fasting, we tend to be easily upset and these are the times also that conflict can arise between people who have hitherto been living in harmony. While fasting may target spiritual growth, the very process is a spiritual warfare and one can easily be upset during this time if one does not understand of the magnitude, importance and struggle of this discipline.
Conflict affects progress and development to the extent that while in it, nothing good happens; this may be in marriage or in any other relational associations. It therefore affects relationships to the extent of bringing about bitterness, hatred and resentment. Unfortunately it does not only deal with those who are embroiled in it but instead affects other innocent people such as children when husbands and wives are enmeshed in it. For many of us Christians, it also affects our spiritual lives because we are unable to connect with our God in worship.
How then do we, as Christians, approach conflict? The first thing that we should always remember is that dialogue is a strong tool of reconciliation and resolution of conflict; in Isaiah 41:21 we are asked to present our case and set forth our arguments. We must however remember that when two people are in conflict none of them may be willing to go down and embrace the other in forgiveness; as Christians however we should brace ourselves and be the first ones to initiate dialogue.
Secondly, we should be ready to change our attitudes. We should have the attitude of a peacemaker. Many of us would like to live peacefully with others but very few of us are willing to be the ones that instigate this peace. The beatitudes in Mathew 5:9 say that the peacemakers are blessed because they will be called sons of God. We can change our lives by simply changing our attitudes.
Thirdly, we should have an attitude of patience and of listening. It is by listening that the Holy Spirit power will give us the discernment we need to deal with conflict. Romans 12:21 asks that we may not be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good.
Fourthly, we should have an attitude of love because when we show love, we reduce resentment and hatred that may otherwise be simmering underneath.
Lastly, we should have an attitude of submission and forgiveness and be ready to bend over and let things fall in place. This is because forgiveness restores and normalizes things, releases the past, heals the future, buys healing and reconciliation but most importantly releases the blessings of God to us.
Conflict is bred in the mind. It is this same mind that determines our worth. We therefore need wisdom to deal with conflict. This should come from the Lord because He is the one whom we serve, the one who gave His son for our salvation. If we are to live in peace with ourselves and with the rest of the world, we must be willing to resolve our conflicts in homes, churches and within our communities. And if we truly love the Lord of the world more than we love the world, then we can truly live with as little conflict as possible and find more time to spend in prayer speaking to our God.
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May these words (sermons), from various men and women of God be a blessing to all.