I’ve been reading through the book of Acts. One of the thing that struck me was that immediately after the Church was founded, conflict happened. Peter – our hero of a disciple – got a verbal smackdown from Paul for being a hypocrite. Then Paul splits from Barnabas, his traveling companion, later on.
If Paul, the guy who was singly and supernaturally tutored by Jesus, was sucked into conflict, maybe it’s not such a bad thing. In fact, maybe there are opportunities hidden in the conflicts we experience. Here are four things I’ve discovered that can come from conflict.
1. God changing you.
Proverbs 27:17 gives a picture of iron sharpening iron; that’s how we sharpen each other. Through friction and conflict, God is sharpening you into a more effective tool. Next time you’re involved in conflict, don’t just wallow in your frustration. Ask yourself (and God) what needs to change in you. What will make you a more effective tool to be used by God?
2. God changing the other person.
Sometimes the conflict isn’t even about you. Maybe there’s nothing God’s working on with you. Maybe he’s using you as the tool to sharpen someone else. It’s important, in this time, to not give into frustration. Don’t see them as the enemy. Instead, look for ways to infuse grace and patience into the situation. You don’t have to leave the conflict feeling abused.
3. God using your conflict as an example.
Jesus gave this picture to his disciples: Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. Maybe that conflict is actually an opportunity to show the world that believers can get along, despite differences. When love prevails in an argument, that’s our chance to prove that we actually follow Jesus. There doesn’t have to be consensus to have love.
4. An innovative idea.
If two people are able to successfully maintain an argument for more than an hour, it’s either because they are arguing unfairly or because neither of them is right. Perhaps this conflict is an opportunity for creative thought. Maybe it’s your chance to come up with an innovative solution that solves the problem. Every conflict has more than two sides. There’s always a third, greater option available. You just have to dig to find it.
Conflict doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, God uses conflict to move us into new places. We just have to keep our hearts pure in the process. Respond well to the conflict and see what amazing things God can do in the middle.