by Emily Wielgosz
There is a lot of division right now. It seems that most topics are considered taboo and both believers and non-believers alike are living in a world of persistent polarization.
But friend, that’s the work of the enemy. He wants us to be divided.
He sows seeds of doubt in our unspoken hurt, he flourishes in our mind through apathy, and we let him win the battle when we isolate ourselves from meaningful relationships rather than pursuing Christ in our conflict.
In our flesh we are always seeking comfort and ease.
What’s easy is to go through the motions and never really connect with people. What’s easy is to surround yourself with people that look like, act like, and hold the same beliefs and opinions as we do. What’s both difficult and necessary is to have people around you that aren’t these things and choose to fulfill the commandment of loving them as ourselves. What’s difficult is to humble yourself, to pray for that person, and seek unity anyway.
We as believers don’t have to avoid, or on the opposite end, hold up our sword and exercise our self-professed spiritual gift of confrontation in conflict.
I want to encourage you that there is a functional and Biblical way to approach conflict.
Hebrews 10:22-25 calls us to stir up one another in love and good works, to encourage one another, and meet together. There is union at the heart of this message. It is the opposite of the apathetic way believers try to manage conflict by avoidance or separation due to differences of opinion or belief.
We are also told in 2 Corinthians 10 to be ready to destroy false arguments. We are told again in Hebrews 10 that we are not those that shrink back and are destroyed but those that have faith and persevere, again in 1 Peter 3 that we should always be ready to explain but we can’t overlook the end here: “with a gentle and respectful manner”.
There is no lack of Biblical reference for managing conflict.
What’s important to remember is this: The Lord has already gone before us and equipped us with what we need to engage and have meaningful conflict for the sake of the gospel and true communion in Christ.
We can love other people well by humbling ourselves, praying for the intercession and guidance of the Lord, and seeking unity.
Remember that whoever is on the other side is a fellow image-bearer. The person you disagree with was created in the image of God. Instead of alienating anyone with an opposing view or falling into the trap of indifference, we have the opportunity to see each person through Jesus-colored lenses.
Truth is important, but truth and being right are not the same.
Ask yourself, am I focusing more on being right and making a point or am I humbly pointing this person to Jesus?
That fellow believer or non-believer you disagree with, that keyboard-warrior internet-surfing antagonist, that person with that theologically differing view:
Jesus died to save them too.
Pray to God. Ask Him to empty you both of yourselves and guide your thoughts and words. When we disagree, this is an opportunity to pray and draw near to the Lord and to grow in intimacy with the Holy Spirit.
What you can’t do is control the other person or the outcome but you can earnestly seek God on your behalf and theirs.
It is powerful to humbly pray for someone you are in conflict with.
Recognizing a fellow image-bearer and loving them well means praying for them and seeking grace and mercy for them just as you need it for yourself.
You can understand why someone holds the view or position without agreeing with them.
Read that again if you glossed over it.
As it relates to fellow believers, you can disagree, even theologically but if you both know and believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He died so that we can have eternal life, you are united.
One of my favorite Bob Goff quotes is, “Oneness doesn’t mean sameness.”
Being one in Christ doesn’t mean we are all the same and what a blessing this truth is!
In our differing personalities, experiential, political and world views, we have an opportunity to come together on the things we do agree on and empathize and understand each other on the things we don’t.
This needs to be talked about more.
I’m convinced that if believers approached conflict in this way, we’d be bringing new believers to faith by the truckload.
Being in community with one another is hard, it’s also one of the greatest blessings we get to enjoy earth-side. In fellowship with one another and God making us all unique we are bound to have conflict and disagreements, but if we can seek first the kingdom, we can carve out a path for other believers to follow. We can model genuine love and care of human dignity and personhood for our children and unbelievers.
We can take a step closer to doing the will of God here as it is in heaven.
As believers, let us relish in the opportunity to go through the hard, that in times of conflict we may be holy spirit-led, through prayer and humility, always seeking unity.
Emily Wielgosz is a writer of the love and grace of Jesus that He's shown and carried her through. She is showing up in sharing stories, pouring over the word, and where God calls her as He continues to undo all of the plans she had for her life. She’s an advocate for creating space for women and families to flourish in the name of God, a communication specialist, wife to Stanley and mother to Clara and William. You can connect with her at herstateofgrace.com and follow along at emily_wielgosz.