When I was a kid, my mother would slice a piece of cake and give my brother and I each half. Conflict would almost instantly erupt as one of us concluded that the other had the bigger piece. In desperation to make peace among us, my mother finally refused to cut the cake. Instead, she would make one of us cut it and the other would get first choice.
What was the lesson here? Was the cut of the cake any different when in our own hands than in our mother's hands? I don't think so. For one thing, it provided us a laser-sharp focus on being fair! But the broader lesson was like a book in which this played the first chapter. What was this proverbial book about? I can summarize it by simply saying that life isn't fair. In fact, look on the back of your birth certificate and see if it says anything about your life being fair. Look in the book of Genesis, where God created everything. Find anyplace where He declared, "And it will be fair."
So if life isn't fair, and the lack of fairness leads to conflict, then it might be safe to say that life is conflict. And there it is, out on the table, in all its shocking awe. Life is conflict. Admittedly, some of us are going to have more conflict than others. Warriors, prophets, leaders and others are probably going to experience a hefty share of conflict as they struggle to help others cope with the unfairness of life.
If life then is conflict, what are we to do with life? I think we are to set aside our selfish desires and look for the reconciliation --- as I blogged about yesterday (with my friend Doug's help). There is a very great Bible lesson I learned a couple of years ago. It had to do with a certain element of conflict. Let me explain.
It has been my experience that one of the most intense levels of conflict erupts when one is unfairly accused. Think about how mad you got when your sibling broke your mother's lamp and tried to blame it on you? Think about how angry you were when the bad kid in the class brought punishment for the whole class. Notice how those feelings get even more intense, red- hot even, now that you're an adult. I firmly believe that being unfairly accused incites the most insidious forms of conflict --- when the other party is clearly wrong --- and I'm about to pay for it.
Each of the Gospels in the Bible tells the story of Jesus' life and ministry. Specifically, there is a scene on the night where Jesus is arrested and tried, just prior to his execution. I've never heard anyone preach on this. But when I look at this story, I see Jesus being accused unfairly. Certainly His accusers are wrong --- and He is about to suffer for it. The remarkable thing I notice about that is Jesus' own reaction to being accused unfairly.
- He made no statements on His own behalf.
- He never tried to defend Himself.
- He did not question His accusers.
- He answered their questions with as few words as possible.
Let's face it, if you and I had been in this position, we would have been furious. We'd have been demanding to call our attorney. We'd be fighting back viciously. In fact, the more we anticipate the suffering we're about to experience the more intense our struggle becomes in the conflict. But Jesus took a different strategy. The most remarkable thing was that when Jesus set His natural instincts aside and responded this way --- God's will was completed perfectly.
So if the most intense form of conflict arises when I am accused unfairly, and my most intense instincts to fight are aroused, then the Christ in me demands something quite extraordinary. Blessed are the peacemakers.
Jesus was the ultimate peacemaker. Will we join Him in that role?