“Be gracious to me, O God, for they have trampled upon me; fighting all day long they oppress me. My foes have trampled upon me all day long, for they are many who fight proudly against me. When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee. In God, whose word I praise, I have put my trust. I shall not be afraid.” ~ Psalm 56:1-4
“If confrontation is to be an expression of patient action, it must be humble. Our constant temptation is to fall into self-righteous revenge or self-serving condemnation. The danger here is that our own witness can blind us. When confrontation is tainted by desire for attention, need for revenge, or greed for power, it can easily become self-serving and cease to be compassionate.” ~ Douglas Morrison
Conflict can be a terrible thing. We fight with each other for many different reasons and the issues can be either big, or rather small. Conflicts in our lives can begin as something that on the grand scale of life is huge, or they can begin with something that’s insignificant. People fight with each other because they’ve been hurt and they want revenge. People fight with each other because they want power and control in their lives more than they want lasting relationships with other people. Conflict almost always creates hurt and misunderstandings; but conflict can, also, help us to better understand each other and appreciate different perspectives.
Conflicts become ugly when we begin to think that the “issue of contention” is more important to us than our relationships with those who disagree with us. When that happens, as Douglas Morrison says, “Our constant temptation is to fall into self-righteous revenge and self-serving condemnation.” We trample upon others with no thought about their well-being. (Psalm 56:1) We oppress people and judge them harshly. (Isaiah 53:8) We begin to carefully examine the speck in the eyes of other people, but fail to acknowledge the log in our own eye. (Matthew 7:3) We place heavy loads of guilt and shame upon those who hurt us, make the path toward reconciliation all but impossible to navigate, and then withdraw from others and refuse to lift the heavy burden that we’ve placed upon their shoulders in any way. (Matthew 23:4)
We come to see that even “good” and “godly” people cannot escape conflict in their lives as we come to “know Christ” more intimately. We come to see that even Incarnate Love, itself, can be rejected and scorned in a broken world. When we find that we are at the heart of the brokenness and alienation in a relationship with another person, we need to be willing to openly and honestly confess our sin and seek a path toward reconciliation. We’ll, also, feel challenged to remain open to the reconciling attempts of those who have hurt and disappointed us, and to even promote the healing process ourselves – as we come to more deeply understand God’s plan for our lives.
To “know Christ” is to put our trust in God (Psalm 56:4) in the times of life when our relationships with others are strained. To “know Christ” is to remain humble and pure – even in the midst of the hurt and alienation in life that can drive us toward self-righteous revenge and self-serving condemnation. To “know Christ” is to realize that we are all poor in the eyes of the Lord and to see that we have all been invited, by Christ, into the healing work of God in our world – even as we continue to struggle with the reality of sin in our lives, and even as we continue to experience conflict and alienation in our relationships with other people.