One of the most unsettling things at work or at home is undue conflict. While some conflict is inevitable (and sometimes good), unresolved conflict is the root of much stress, fear, and broken relationships.
Yesterday I shared how the days of our week are named after pagan gods who were worshiped in ancient times. But as followers of Christ we can transform some the harmful patterns and spirituality of these dark influences through the redemptive means.
Tuesday is our English rendering of “Tiw’s Day.” Tiw was the Norse god of conflict. This parallels the Latin god of war: Mars (in Spanish, “Martes” – which is their word for “Tuesday”). So the pattern of Tiw (and Mars) is antagonism, clinging on to selfishness and self-righteousness, and making war with those who stand in the way.
But Jesus calls us to be “Peace-makers.” In Matthew 5:9, He says:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called ‘children of God.’”
Theologically, God makes us His children through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and our surrender to His Lordship in our lives. However, one of the qualities of being a child of God is that we bring peace (shalom – which is the Hebrew word for “wholeness and wellness”) to areas of conflict. The world will recognize the reality of God when His children operate as peacemakers.
This does not mean that Christ-followers are to be co-dependent “doormats” who preserve peace at all costs – like being trampled on by bullies. Rather, armed with truth and love, we follow God’s lead in bringing reconciliation, justice, compassion, and resolution to conflict. The end result is a higher level of understanding, better solutions, and a greater measure of truthful and grace-filled relationship. Isaiah described this reign of peace/shalom with the vision of mortal enemies dwelling with each other (Isa. 11:6 – the wolf with the lamb, leopard with the goat, the child with the poisonous snake, the USC Trojan with the UCLA Bruin – well, let’s not get carried away!)
So as Whole Life Worshipers of God, what are some practical things we can do to be peace-makers on “Conflict Tuesday?”
1. Detach from things that we “own” too much. Sometimes we become conflicted because we are too attached to things, projects, people, and agendas. When people threaten these attachments, we want to go to war – either external conflict or passive aggression. The one thing that helps us to detach is to surrendering our attachments to God. We must understand that He always is looking out for our best; we can then let go and let God.
2. Do not succumb to the evil one’s temptation to go “sideways” on people. I learned my propensity do this when I sharply disagreed with a trusted friend (who is a also pastor). I dug in my heels and he said to me, “Doug, please don’t go sideways on me. We need to work this out together.” It was like someone splashed a glass of cold water on my face! I woke up and realized how selfish and uncooperative I was becoming. The devil had ensnared me into “insisting on my own way.”
3. Seek to understand before being understood. Underneath aggression and conflict is usually a deep desire to be understood. People often resort to aggression because others have continued to devalue their opinion on things. Remember St. Francis’ prayer, “Master, grant that I may seek to understand, rather than to be understood.” A good listening ear and discerning heart can get to the foundation of what’s really bugging people.
4. Be filled with God’s love so that you can love others with your overflow. Our human ability to love is limited, conditional, and sometimes manipulative. The only way we can bring peace is if we love from a source that is unlimited, unconditional, and unselfish. Most of us know this, but we often by-pass one important step. Before we can ask for the power to love as Christ loves, we need to be filled with His love; we need to experience it. Only as we have been loved in a way that is patient, kind, not envious or self-seeking, can we begin to love others in such a way. This requires spending time with God and asking Him to reveal His love to us.
So make peace, not war. And allow your Whole Life Worship of Christ bring healing and wholeness to relationships and situations.