Conflict is inevitable in a world marred by sin. Selfishness, pride, ambition, arrogance, ignorance… all these and a dozen other vices prevent us from communicating as effectively as we’d like to. Often, they prevent us from even desiring effective communication. And even when there’s no overt sin problem, there’s still the apparently insurmountable problem of sheer difference. We think differently, act differently, speak differently. We have different goals, different ways of prioritizing common goals, different ways of achieving even the things we have in common. These differences lead us to misapprehend, misinterpret, and mistrust other peoples’ motives and integrity. Put all this together in a world of scarcity, loss, and disappointment, and it’s a wonder that there’s room to get anything productive done for the tidal wave of strife threatening to sweep us away.
In short, our world is rife with the potential for inter-personal conflict.
In the midst of this reality, Christians are called to demonstrate the peaceful nature of their heavenly Father – we are to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:8). Yet there’s a difficulty that we face, as much as anybody else. In fact, if we are not careful, Christians are more susceptible to this danger than others.
It’s the danger of thinking – when all is said and done – that we really are right.
Now, certainly in any conflict there is more right and less right. But often, both (or all) sides are just wrong before a perfectly righteous and holy God. Job had to learn this as much as Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar. He was surely “more right” than his friends were in this particular conflict (Job 42:7-8) – and from the mouth of God, no less!
But were he to have focused on his “more-rightness” compared to his friends, he would have missed his total wrongness before God (Job 38-41). He would have missed his chance for genuine repentance (Job 42:1-6). He would have missed the opportunity to be used by God to bring his friends to a better understanding of the Absolute Right that transcended all their relative rightness (Job 42:9). He would have missed the blessings that only come on the other side of a full trust in God (Job 42:10-17).
And that is the hard part of conflict. To give more weight to the 4 chapters of our wrongness before God, than to the 2 verses of our comparative rightness to others. And then to humble ourselves before a holy and righteous God, and humbly lead those we’re in conflict with to bow together in his presence.
This is hard. But only then does true resolution come.