January 1, 2023 @ 7:00 AM

Let me share my thoughts on conflict with you. My belief is that “change is wrought in the crucible of conflict.” What do I mean by that? It is my belief that change in a person’s life seldom happens when everything is going well. Most of us live by the logic, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” so if things are going well why change? We change in response to pain: physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual. One of the primary sources of pain is conflict. Conflict causes us to experience physical symptoms such as the increased flow of adrenaline, an accelerated heart rate and rapid breathing, sweaty palms, a flush face, and wider pupils.

Conflict also causes us to experience emotional symptoms. We can become agitated or angry because someone disagrees with us. We may feel attacked or disrespected. We may feel hurt. When we have conflict with someone we become defensive and attempt to defend our position and why we did or said something. Relationally, conflict causes us to evaluate our relationship with our opponent. Shall we cut off the relationship over this conflict and sever the relationship? Shall we “hold this person at arm’s length” from now on because they are not safe? Can we tolerate someone not agreeing with us? Invariably we see the other person differently than we did prior to the conflict.

Spiritually, conflict can cause us to become angry at God for not protecting us. Conflict can make us doubt our faith or at least doubt the faith of the other person. After all how could a true believer say or do such a thing!

Can I humbly suggest that conflict doesn’t have to be negative. Change is wrought in the crucible of conflict. This can be positive. Conflict causes us to rethink what we said or did. It can cause us to seek a better solution. It clears the air in a relationship and flushes disagreements to the surface. Consider the conflict between Paul and Barnabas over taking John Mark on the second missionary journey. The account is described in Acts 15:36-40. The Bible pulls aside the curtain of their relationship and reveals that there was a “sharp disagreement” between them. John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13). Barnabas, Mark’s uncle, wanted to take him on the second missionary journey but Paul was against it reasoning that he had deserted them on the first journey. The Bible tells us that the conflict caused a split. Barnabas took Mark and went off to minister in Cyprus and Paul chose Silas and went back to the churches established in the first journey. How did good come from that conflict? God used it to create two missionary teams, the Barnabas team and the Pauline team. The gospel now spread further and faster. The final benefit of the conflict is that Paul in his later years says this concerning Mark, “Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service” (2 Timothy 4:11). An amazing sentence! Paul sees Mark through different eyes. Without reading into the text, something changed in the relationship between Paul and Mark. Mark is now useful to him and Paul needs his service.

Conflict need not be negative and destructive. It can produce positive change as it did with Paul and Mark. Don’t be afraid of conflict. God can use it as the crucible for change.

For His glory,