I have spent a lot of time this week thinking about conflict. The scripture passage this week has Jesus telling us that he didn’t come to bring peace, but division. If that is truly the case, maybe the nastiness of the times means Jesus is alive and well all around us! How’s that for looking on the bright side, huh?
Anyway, one of the thoughts I have had, is about how we deal with conflict. Quite honestly, I don’t think most of us do so well. If social media is involved, I think the likelihood of conflict being handled well is even less. However, I don’t think it has to be that way, and I don’t think that it should be that way.
This whole passage about peace and division starts off with Jesus saying, “Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked.” This ought to hit us as a shot across the bow. As followers of Christ, we definitely fall into this category. We have been given so much, by the Grace of God, and the reality is, I think there is much expected of us.
When we wade into conflict (and we all do at times), I think that we need to be holding ourselves to higher standards. We know better. We know what is good and kind and loving. We have the ultimate example in Christ. We know what is expected of us. I know how easy it is to get caught up in the moment and lose yourself, your kindness, your love. However, we need to practice rising above.
This past week, a long-time friend of mine found was caught falling into the fray online. One line of political comments quickly devolved into name calling and other nastiness—a story that is too oft repeated in this election cycle. It did not take long for things to get completely out of hand and fell to a level that can’t be repeated here (and shouldn’t be repeated anywhere!). I was, however, quite impressed with one particular person’s comments that were very much along the lines of what Jesus said. Rather than continuing the mud-slinging, this person brought a calm voice to the conversation that said, “You all know better than this. Show some respect to each other.” And that ended the fight.
I think that it is easy for all of us to forget that we are all better than how we often act—especially when politics are concerned! As Jesus starts his talk about conflict, he does so with the reminder, “Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked.” That’s us. That is all of us! When we are tempted to fall into the slime of the political season, remember that you are exactly who Jesus is talking about. We are the ones that need to be setting a higher standard for all the discussion. And when we find that conflict, or that disagreement that really gets our goat, remember, you are a beloved child of God, and so is the person that is angering you. Try to extend some grace. Now, if only our political leaders could actually set that kind of tone, we might all be much better off.