"You cannot run away from weakness; you must some time fight it out or perish. And if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?" -Robert Louis Stevenson
I hate conflict.
In fact, I have been known to hide in closets, bathroom stalls, and my own car in order to avoid conflict.
Unfortunately, we are a broken people. Violent toward another with our words and actions. Conflict is never far away from any of us.
To make good come out of conflict, especially when the disagreement is with other believers, I’m tempted to reduce bad experiences into an opportunity to work out who I’m becoming, who God is forming me to be. I want to forget we are His people and concentrate on just being His child in those moments.
Forget everyone else, I think. They hurt me! Now I will take my Bible with me so I can read Psalms and my journal so that I can write angry things about my enemies. I will feel better and never talk to those people again!
But I am reminded each week, as I step forward to partake in the bread and the cup with my fellow brothers and sisters, that we are all one in Him. That means that every conflict and instance where we were hurt that week is swallowed up in His love and His work on the cross.
I even think it’s possible in those minutes to remember what can happen through conflict. That perhaps He uses it to work His good for all of us, His people. That when we are in conflict with one another, we come face to face with our sin and that is when healing can begin.
Hiding in closets doesn’t allow for this. Hiding in closets is the ultimate act of selfishness, pride, and cowardice. We are saying we don’t think God can work. We are stating we don’t think He’s bigger than our sin.
(As a side note, this is the danger of church hopping or just plain leaving the local church. Running from “hypocrites” will get us nowhere. They are not the enemy.)
As much as I hate conflict, I think it’s time to come out of my hiding places. It’s time to sit in tension. To allow God’s greater work to unfold in relationships that seem unhealthy on the surface.
It’s not really about me. It’s about His forming us, all of us, into the likeness of His Son.
I’m not going to lie. The process is painful and uncomfortable. I don’t like to be in the same room as someone who hurt me. I don’t even like to remember that God cares for them and sees them as much as He sees me.
However, I will step forward with hand held out to receive the broken bread, to drink from the cup of salvation that is larger than the cup of adversity. I want to be where God is moving, where He is bringing healing, forgiveness, and love. A love greater than all our sin combined.
That is the real work of the cross. That is the real victory.