Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Acts 11:1–3
A good argument can be a great achievement. An argument can be truly productive when it is seen as a holy opportunity. Conflict can be life-giving if we don’t avoid it. We often assume that healthy and wholesome churches, organizations, and families are those that don’t experience tension and disagreement. The truth is, however, those seemingly conflict-free entities are just sweeping issues under the carpet. For we know that whenever two or three are gathered—whether Jesus is there or not—there will be conflict.
When real and important conflicts arise, if they are addressed directly and carefully, new life and opportunity for growth can be experienced. The apostles in Jerusalem were initially upset that Peter had spent time ministering to Gentiles, thus breaking centuries-old religious laws. With the issues on the table, however, the apostles were able to have a thorough and thoughtful conversation that wound up expanding the understanding of who God calls into relationship. The conflict ended with a hopeful resolution: When the apostles heard this, “they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’”
Are you avoiding conflict and thus missing an opportunity for growth and new life?
Lord, I would prefer to avoid conflict—to simply pretend it is not there. I want life to go smoothly, and I don’t want to be embroiled in uncomfortable and personal squabbles. “Live and let live” is what I often say. However, I know that I can’t fully live with issues piling up under the carpet. They always lie in wait, prepared to trip me up. Help me to lay aside my aversion to conflict and instead deal with issues that arise, trusting that You are at work even in the most difficult situations. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.