The Case for Conflict
Have you downloaded First 5 onto your phone yet? If you haven’t, pause now. Seriously. Leave this post (but come right back! :)), find First 5 in your app store, and download it.
You might be wondering about why I’m so insistent. It’s not because it’s from Proverbs 31 Ministries, and I’m part of the team. It’s not because I love my phone so much that I can’t even put it down in my quiet time.
It’s because First 5 has me more excited about reading the Bible in the morning than I have been in the longest time.
And God is using that little app in the most powerful way in my life. He’s reminding me that His Word is for me. To speak to me daily. Right in the midst of my circumstances. When they’re joyful. And when they’re stinky.
This week, I have to confess that I’m feeling stinky about some of my circumstances. I’m smack in the middle of some relational stuff that’s making me squirm, and I have two friends in separate cities who are in far worse situations than I’m in. It’s enough to make a Jesus-loving girl want to move to Costa Rica and build a hut on the beach with some palm fronds. (Yes, that little scenario might be well-enough thought out to make it seem like I’ve been dreaming about this for days.)
The reforming perfectionist in me wants to run. To hide. To disappear. I hate the imperfection of conflict and unsettled relationships. In the past, I would back out of the room so stealthily that you’d wonder where I went. You’d turn around… and POOF! I was gone. But God has been teaching me a different way, so here I am sitting at my computer typing instead of enjoying ocean breezes on the coast of South America.
I dragged myself out of bed this morning longing to curl back into a fetal position for the rest of the day, and I dropped my heavy limbs down into my “quiet time chair” to start on Acts 15, today’s scripture for First 5.
That’s where I found it. Just what I needed.
Acts 15 is the account of the conflict in the early church over circumcision. The party of the Pharisees –those rule-loving folks– said that the new Gentile believers had to be circumcised to be saved, but scripture says that Paul and Barnabus were in “sharp dispute and debate” with them.
I actually love that the Bible uses the word “sharp” to describe the conflict. This word leaves no room for thinking that these guys calmly and gently talked through this matter. This word makes it clear that there was passion and vigor and maybe a little raised volume.
To get the whole fabulous, scriptural lesson about the marks of healthy conflict, you’ll just have to download the app, but here’s the statement Whitney Capps used that captured my heart this morning:
[Tweet “Unity is often found on the other side of conflict… healthy, Holy Spirit-resolved conflict.”]
Acts 15 shows us how to behave in the midst of conflict. Was everybody involved happy slappy at the end? I doubt it, but God’s people acted like His people and sought His Word, His will and His best in a hard situation. They moved through conflict into unity.
That’s when I knew God was speaking straight through His Word to me. This isn’t a time to run. This isn’t a time to disappear or move to Costa Rica. This is the time to draw close to God’s Word and to His people. This is the time to work it through and work it out. This is the time to jump into the deep instead of jumping ship.
What’s God’s Word speaking to you today? I’d love to hear!
Thanks to all of you who left a comment to enter to win Come with Me! Congratulations to Mary Louise Buchiere (5.10.16 10:39 am) who is the winner! I’ve sent you an email for your address. 🙂
Please note my new policy: I announce winners here and send personal emails, but I will choose a new winner if I haven’t received your address within a week.
Thank you for a beautiful devotion that I enjoy every time I read it. Would love to read more about conflict as we encounter these problems daily in our lives.
I loved reading the P31 devotional on conflict as well. The conflict I’m in right now is not in the church but rather in my employment. God is absolutely calling me out of this position but there are conversations that should be had before I go that will be hard. It would be much easier for me to walk out the door and leave my successor with these issues but this spoke to me that I have to fight my nature to avoid uncomfortable situations and do this hard thing. Prayers that I keep the resolve I have right this moment. If not, I have enough frequent flyer miles to get us both to a warm beach with no cell service! Thanks for always following God’s prompting to share your day-to-day story. You are a blessing, Amy.
Girl, keep those frequent flyer miles on stand-by for us just in case! 😉 Seriously, I just sat here and prayed for you–peace that overcomes nervousness, grace that seasons hard words, and understanding ears to hear. Standing with you, Rhonda!
When you get ready to go to Costa Rica – call me, I’ll gladly come with! I have been wanting to run away for many months, even years now. I have two siblings that are at total conflict with each other for 6 years now, won’t even speak to each other, or about each other, and I don’t know how to make it go away. I know that’s not my job, so prayer is helping. I covet your prayers in this matter.
D, before I answered, I prayed for you. In college, I sensed that God was telling me that He was shaping me into a peace-maker. That sounded awesome to me… until He moved me to study what a peace-maker is in His Word. I thought I’d be called to smooth over problems and make everything better, but scripture revealed that peacemakers are actually those who bring God’s truth into a situation. That’s a whole lot harder!! But His presence is the only thing that brings real, lasting peace, so I’m committed to His definition instead of my own. Praying for you to be a gentle peace-maker in your family!
Thanks for the reminder to.download firsf5 app. Done! Yes, we so have to be careful how we respond to different aspects of life. People are watching. Better yet, God is watching. Thanks for being a blessing.
Such a good reminder, Angela. People are watching and God is watching. Yes. Enjoy First 5!
Thank you for your words of encouragement. I can completely relate to your feelings of wanting to run away. There are days I think my current circumstances will never end and it gets so overwhelming. God speaks thru His word and thru devotions like yours to remind me to not give up. Even though it is a daily battle right now full of tears and headache He has bigger plans for our lives. Thank you for reminding me I am not alone. God bless you during your time of struggle.
MJ, before I wrote this reply I prayed that God would hold you tightly and guide you faithfully through your circumstances. I’m standing with you!