“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1)
Conflict is the collision of differing desires – when someone wants his own way and someone else wants something different…and tension builds.
Dr. David Cimbora of Biola University says there are several major differences in each of us that are sources of conflict.
Role Differences: We’re all in different roles in life – employer/employee; wife/husband; parent/child, teacher/student, etc. In these differing roles we naturally have different expectations from others. When another person doesn’t meet our expectations, stress and tension can build and lead to conflict.
Value Differences: Different folks value different things. I think this is what we’re seeing most in our conflict-rich country right now. The worldviews of differing groups have moved further and further apart and the tension has turned the nation into a tinderbox.
Perception Differences: No two people see everything exactly the same and it is naïve to assume that people see things the way we do. We all have different processing systems and often don’t work from the same data…you might reach different conclusions from watching MSNBC and Fox news. For instance, white Christians across the country are praying for peace. Black Christians across the nation are praying for justice. Both are right! It’s just different perspectives of the same tension. One marriage counselor says that 80-90% of marriage issues she sees is because of perception problems.
Identity Differences: Depending where you find your identity will color how you see things: race, gender, sexual preference…your job, your family, how you vote. We see a lot of conflict today in identity politics…pitting one group against another.
How do we “wage peace” surrounded by all this conflict? The issue of vital importance for you and me is this last one of identity. We are peacemakers. We must make sure that, though other things may be true about us, we find our deepest sense of identity in Jesus! We’re Christians first and foremost. That will affect our values and perception and how we function in the roles in which we’re called to walk.
Because every human is different, conflict is unavoidable. We will inevitably run into differing desires. But God has given us the tools we need to handle conflict well and be peacemakers in the process – it is who we are. Join us Sunday for “The Anatomy of Conflict” and we’ll discuss how!