How do you deal with conflict? I may have an unpopular approach, but I tend to address conflict head on, right away. I don’t like using the silent treatment or leaving passive aggressive notes. But I think my approach can be a little intense sometimes, so I’m learning to give others time to process disagreement and conflict.
When I’m practicing better conflict management, I try to remember how Jesus dealt with conflict. He stepped into conflict, but His purpose was to bring shalom. “Shalom” is a Hebrew word that can sometimes be translated as “peace,” but a more comprehensive translation would be closer to reconciliation, making all things as they should be, or making broken things whole. Jesus is a maker of this kind of peace—not just the absence of conflict, but the presence of wholeness without fear or anxiety. And when Jesus returns, He will bring all things into shalom, making everything whole so all things work together the way they were designed to.
To make things whole again, sometimes we do need to step into conflict. Jesus often did this with the Pharisees (a group of Jewish religious leaders), rebuking them for their hypocrisy and for caring more about rules than about people. For example, one time Jesus’s disciples were hungry on the Sabbath (a Jewish day of rest) so they picked a few heads of grain from a field. This went against a Pharisaic law that stated a person shouldn’t pick heads of grain on the Sabbath. When the Pharisees confronted Jesus about this, He rebuked them. He told them He is Lord over the Sabbath, and it wasn’t right for them to condemn people for breaking human-made rules. Those rules brought division and self-righteousness, not shalom. They blinded the Pharisees to the bigger picture—that Jesus was God in human flesh, and He had come in love to bring about shalom. Soon after this, when the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus into breaking the Sabbath, Jesus healed a man’s hand—He restored what was broken and made his hand whole. In this way, Jesus stepped into conflict to reconcile what was wrong and bring about shalom.
So when we see division and brokenness, we can look to Jesus, the One who brought wholeness to our broken relationship with God, and seek to follow in His footsteps. We can step into conflict with Jesus right beside us, aiming to bring wholeness to broken places. • Naomi Zylstra
• How do you tend to deal with conflict? Learning when and how to step into conflict is difficult. Consider spending some time talking to God about this, asking for His guidance and direction.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9 (WEB)