Why Is There Conflict?
Conflict arises naturally. No two people ever agree on everything. When this happens
their perspectives on the world conflict. However, this does not need to lead
to what we normally think of conflict a relationship-destroying
division between people. Yet it often does. Why?
Well, the short answer is, of course, sin. However, we can chart the course of conflict and
begin to see where sin takes its hold.
How do we get this far? Several things contribute:
We do not repent and make amends.
Even when a conflict degenerates
to the point where divorce is likely, we can still turn around. That, after
all, is what it means to repent. We turn back around toward each other
and toward right behavior. We turn back around in our judgment of our past behavior
and in our desire to make things right with others. We turn around our judgmental
attitude that unremittingly condemns someone who has wronged us and toward
- We disagree. At this level we recognize that we are different
people with different perspectives, passions and desires. One of us may be right
about a question or we may simply have different perspectives. If nothing crucial is
at stake here, or if we can go separate ways on this question, then no conflict will
My wife and I have very different ways of watering the house we are now renting. She
turns the water up higher and covers more area at a time and likes to put the sprinkler
closer to the house (so that the water drips off of the roof) I put the water on
lower, move the sprinkler more often and avoid the house entirely. Though we
disagree we have not conflict because we can let each other do it our way when that
- We have a problem. Now a conflict begins to arise. Either:
Sin creeps in here in two ways. First, why do I have to make you act or think in my way?
For whom is this good? When I have to have you act or think some way so that I can
be comfortable, I sin. I am not looking out for your good, as well as mine (Philippians
2:4) Even if my way is better in my mind, it may not be better for
you. To force others to act and think the way we do shows that do not have the mind of
Christ. He willingly allowed the young rich ruler to walk away and not follow him.
(Mark 10:17-22) The same with the Samaritans that opposed his
going to Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51-56)
- I feel a need to make you do it or think of it in my way,
- Your doing it your way prevents me from doing it my way. (Well talk about
issues of your way preventing me from thinking of it my way below.
There are times that limited resources give rise to disagreements leading to conflict. The
worship wars American congregations seem to pass through regularly
reflect this reality. If you church only has one service, it can be traditional, high-church,
contemporary, alternative, post-modern, blended, or something else. But it cannot
be all of these things at the same time. With limited resources come conflicts.
Yet, even here we have not yet crossed a critical boundary. We have a problem.
We share this problem together and we can find shared solutions.
- You have a problem. Now the conflict has gone bad.
We are disconnecting from one another. If you have a conflict, I dont have to help
you solve it. You are on your own. Just dont bother me with it or because of it.
Fundamentally, we have begun to reject each other.
We may conceive of your problem in many ways:
This approach (and any other rationalization for separating from each other)
runs afoul of Colossians 3:15-16
- You have a bad attitude. The problem lies in your personality or your
disagreeable nature. Since I cant change those things, I dont have to
help you with your problem.
- You have bad beliefs. If I can impugn your ideas as bad in themselves,
then I don have to make an effort to understand them or you. I simply dismiss
you as wrong.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
as you teach
and admonish one another with all wisdom
through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit,
singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Separating breaks the unity. The unity leads to mutual teaching engaging each other
over the truth in such a way that it is melodious
However, things can get worse.
- You are a problem Now things have become personal.
We no longer have an issue out there that we can each examine, or at
least you can examine. Now the person becomes the issue. When this
happens, the only removing the person (you) will solve this issue for us.
A person that Jesus calls us to seek, embrace and teach becomes a person to exclude.
At this point the violation of the unity of the Body and the
Mission of Jesus grows complete. We no longer
love our neighbor as ourselves or love one another as I [Jesus]
have loved you. Because of that, we no longer love the Lord our God with all
our heart, soul, mind and strength because:
If we say we love God
yet hate a brother or sister,
we are liars.
For if we do not love a fellow believer,
whom we have seen,
we cannot love God,
whom we have not seen.
1st John 4:20
Disagreements do not have to become conflicts. And every conflict can be resolved if
we live our our apprenticeship with Jesus.
For more information see: