Jesus endured conflict during His time on earth, not least with the religious leaders, but also within His own community and family even: “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.”[i] Therefore, as servants who are not greater than our Master, we shouldn’t be surprised if we see it in our own lives as a result of our faith and obedience to Him.
Dictionary definitions for conflict include words such as battle, contention, strife, antagonism, disagreement and dissension, divided loyalties, contend, differ and struggle. If Jesus went through such, we should expect to:
“Do not think I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household!” [ii]
However, it is our response to conflict that counts, so choosing to respond appropriately is the road to Christian maturity. Sometimes as with Job, He allows conflict to test us in order we learn more about ourselves, therefore it’s not to be feared, but embraced as a valuable learning experience and an opportunity to grow. Other times He will chastise us for our profit, to lead us to righteousness. Although such discipline doesn’t feel nice, when He chastises you rejoice, for He scourges those He receives as sons.[iii]
Family & Church Conflict
Family and church conflict is likely as the great sifting takes place in these last days. The Lord’s winnowing fork[iv] will separate those who pursue truth, from those who chase after false theologies and the doctrines of demons:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” 1 Timothy 4:1
“Good will be called evil and evil good” Isaiah 5:20
“But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.” Jude 17-19
Such separation of chaff and wheat will create tension and should not catch us unaware; again it’s how we respond that counts. Do we seek revenge, to fight back and prove ‘our’ point, or do we forgive and accept injustice, loving as Jesus commanded? Are we able to praise God in the midst of conflict, humble enough to say “not my will but thy will be done.” Or do we go to court bringing God into disrepute instead of mediating on the way, as advised in Proverbs 25:8…
“Do not go hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame.”
Conflict with the World
Conflict with the world is a different matter, especially when it includes persecution for righteousness sake. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego never sought to escape the furnace of judgment fuelled by King Nebuchadnezzar. When threatened with death for refusing to bow to his ungodly demands, they replied by saying; “if it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[v] Their response was not one of fear and trembling but faith; truly it is written those who know their God will do great exploits!
So if you’re unwillingly drawn into conflict simply put on the armour of God and stand, knowing that your God will go before you and be your rearguard – for He is a God of justice! Be strong and of good courage for the Lord your God will not leave you or forsake you. Believe His word, “that no weapon forged against you will prosper.”[vi] Note it doesn’t say weapons won’t be forged, just that they won’t prosper, i.e. no lasting effect!
“But even if you suffer for righteousness sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…”
(1 Peter 3:14-15)
If your standing in righteousness in Christ, you’re already positioned for victory, for it is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God that battles are won.[vii] The word of God is sharper than any two edged sword, so declare it before the courts of heaven and wage war against the enemy in the spirit realm, and be amazed at what can happen!
Should conflict involve the law of the land and you find yourself in court do not trust in men; but trust in God, for fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be safe.[viii] Lawyers may promise the earth but it is the Judge who decides. In April, new government legislation comes into force that will make it easier for over zealous people in authority to challenge and perhaps charge Christians.
So in conclusion: see conflict through the lens of scripture as something not to be feared but an opportunity for growth. The bible says we should give thanks in all things, so thank Him and allow Him to lead you by still waters, perhaps even to laying a table for you in the presence of your enemies? Therefore:
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled….”
[i] Matthew 10:36
[ii] Matthew 10:34-36
[iii] Hebrews 12:6
[iv] Matthew 3:12
[v] Daniel 3:16
[vi] Isaiah 54:17
[vii] Zechariah 4:6
[viii] Proverbs 29:25