“Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
In the space of a week I had four painful confrontations with friends. I had feelings of anger, despair; I felt misunderstood, maligned, abandoned, rejected, uninvited, and a host of other uns. I questioned who my friends really were and who I could trust. I would often think and pray, “Lord, everyone on the planet could drop dead right now and I would not care. Just You and me, Lord, just You and me. I’m happy with that. Let everyone else leave me alone.”
I might have a flair for the dramatic. Might. I am 97% extroverted and praying for everyone to fall off the face of the earth. I might also be a walking oxymoron. Might.
One of the friendships took a bigger hit than the other ones. This is one I have prayed over and wept over. I’ve also stood in amazed wonder at what Jesus was doing in me. Instead of hotly placing blame I’ve prayed for my eyes to be open to my own complicity in the conflict. I went into the conflict believing I was being obedient, I had prayed and had asked friends around the nation to pray for me. Because I want to minister Jesus and His grace, His love, His life.
Even through this painful confrontation and it’s ensuing (temporary) fallout, Jesus has taught me so much. He has been so faithful to show Himself and reveal His character in ways I hadn’t seen before.
This morning He brought home to my heart how much He desires unity for us, in us, and from us. We are commanded to live unified with our brothers and sisters in Him.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18
We have a choice in our dealings with all men but even more so when dealing within our own friendships. Peace is always a choice and does not necessarily mean there is no conflict. And it isn’t a head in the sand obliviousness either. We are also told that we will have trouble (conflict) in this world but He came to bring peace within the conflict.
“make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” Philippians 2:2
Our unity makes joy complete. Unity does not equal passivity or to senselessly acquiesce. It means we are real with ourselves and others. We are free to speak up. We are free to disagree. And we are free to
“do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
Unity also means we are free with our sincere apologies and we are quick to both offer and seek forgiveness. We know how to make a true apology, an apology that accepts responsibility for our wrong actions. We don’t blame the other person for the conflict. We realize it takes two to have a conflict and we are just as guilty as they are.
Storms of conflict are inevitable. Our response to them does not have crush us or define us. It can and should teach us. We should view it as a welcome friend, embrace it, and see Jesus in it. It’s not easy but it reflects the life of Jesus in us and shows the world the difference of a life fully committed to Him.
No, we won’t always get it right. There is grace for that. And mercy. And forgiveness.