This little class is a passion on mine – helping Christians rein in the power of conflict in their relationships. Conflict is a difference of opinion or purpose that frustrates someone’s goals or desires. (_The Peacemaker_ , Ken Sande, p. 29) And I was in conflict with my computer! When I calmed down, and realized the reality that no computer was what it was – and nothing but patience and perseverance would root out the invader, I thought about the great metaphor this setback was for the trouble conflict often creates.
Conflict, like stress, is not always bad; it can motivate creative thinking; it can be a great teacher – showing us things we would never learn otherwise. Yet unresolved conflict splits apart people – wrecking relationships and churches. I believe we can do better, but we often do not – because what we want gets in the way of resolving and reconciling conflicts.
Conflict erupts, and we often cannot see why or how we clash with another; another person and I differ, and this is frustrating an idea, emotion or need I feel deeply. And like that computer worm took me places on the internet I didn’t want to go, conflict also takes me where I don’t want to go. James did a great job describing the wormy places that unreconciled conflict can lead me – and why:
“Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don't have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn't yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it. You wouldn't think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you'd be asking for what you have no right to. You're spoiled children, each wanting your own way.” (James 4:1-3, The Message, emphasis added)
I needed outside help conquering the computer worm; it took time and skill. How much more do I need help in rooting out the causes of conflict in my heart and in the relationships God established! God is great “tech support” in unresolved conflict – He is the only one who knows the depth and breath of the infection. (Jeremiah 17:9-10) And He is the only help who can diagnose and heal all the worm holes my pride and self-centeredness dug. (Psalm 107:20-21; Isaiah 53:5; Jeremiah 17:14) He is the only reliable shield against the viruses infecting our hearts. (Psalm 18:30)
And for what it is worth, He answered my prayers, helping Doug; the computer works for now – though that worm may still wreak havoc – again a picture of the dangers unresolved conflict creates! (Hebrews 12:15-16)