Matthew 18 Community - Part 4 - The Nature of ConflictIntroduction
Jesus once said, "where two or three are gathered in my name...there will be conflict!"Actually, that's not quite right, but it brings up a very valid point. Conflict, like death andtaxes, is a certainty. You can try your best to avoid it, but where two people interact withone another (at home, work, church or even at the level of international politics) there isbound to be tension leading to conflict.Let us set some context before getting into the nature of conflict.
Setting the context
In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus begins a teaching on how to confront a person who hasinjured you in some fashion. He uses the phrase, "if your brother sins against you..."Afterward, he lays out an incremental strategy for healing this type of interpersonalconflict.I would like to suggest that Jesus' methodology works in any situation in which two ormore people are experiencing animosity, disagreement or relational tension. In short,Jesus words are a remedy for ANY type of conflict!
The Nature of Conflict
If we are to tackle conflict, it is perhaps best to begin by defining it. What is it? How doesit arise? What are typical reactions to it?Conflict can be defined as a disagreement among two entities, which carries with itperceived or actual threats to each parties' needs, interests or concerns. It matters notwhether the disagreement is big or small? Indeed, it matters not whether the threat is realor perceived. What is important is the break in the relationship that occurs as a result.Conflict can arise as in Jesus' example when one person does something to injure anotherperson, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. But conflict can also arise because of misunderstandings. You shoot off and e-mail, which contains benign language; however,it is interpreted incorrectly, and voilà! you get conflict.Or two people may disagree on what color to paint interior walls, how to achieve theright market share, or whether universal care is a right. So there is no shortage of reasonswhy conflict occurs.