Sunday, 28 September 2008

For Peace Sake: Conflict Resolution

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)

There can be no peace as long as there is conflict. Whether it is wars and military skirmishes or family feuds and personal malice held towards another person these spell disaster for any hope of peace within and without. Whatever it takes, whether its negotiations around a table or one simply humbling themselves and giving up all rights to break the ice, today you can contribute to resolving conflicts for peace sake.

This post, emailed on Tuesday 23 September, is the first ‘catch-up’ post from the week just gone. On Thursday 25th September the North Staffs YMCA put on a day specially focussed on the concept of peace called For Peace Sake. As a result most of my energies were directed in this cause and one of the things that suffered with posting the entries from the emails. Now with some time available I’ll endeavour to put up the thoughts sent out over the week.

It remains a challenge to stimulate Christian Spiritual reflection from to an audience of people who have mixed views on the area. It’s a good challenge, because Jesus was effortlessly able to stimulate this during His time on earth. The issue of peace is one of those where connections can be made easier. Everyone wants peace. Their experience has little connection with experiencing peace for any length of time, but it is an ideal worth aspiring to. What is evident is not only do they lack peace, but they live in a world that lacks peace and this seen in no greater a place than in the conflicts of life. Family relatives don’t get on. Different communities don’t get on. Rivalry lies at the heart of most competition which spills out into aggressive and antagonistic behaviour. Pride and superiority builds up barriers and creates more conflicts on a relational and political level. Indeed a commonly held criticism to religion is how wars have been started by religious rivalry.

What these arguments fail to reach is the heart to what causes these conflicts in the first place. In preparing for the event on Thursday, I was moved to read James 3:13-4:10. Verse 1 of chapter four especially gets to the real root for conflict.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?

Religion is just another tool used by the various passions that drives men that causes conflict. If possible, you could remove religion and there would still be war and conflict on a personal and global level. At the heart of all conflict is the inner conflict of what we desire inside. This is also a reflection of what takes place once our focus is taken from God, or what happened when we sin. Rebellion against God has seen conflicts erupt from Cain and Abel to the present day. The highest end of this tragedy remains the millions of people who remain disconnected from their Creator through idolatry of a plethora of manifestations. That’s why Jesus’ death on the cross and the mission was to bring an end to the conflict between man and God. Once that conflict is resolved it makes sense that all other conflicts would soon cease – especially the conflict within. For now we have the Word that says that He gives peace that the world doesn’t give and it passes understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.

Reflecting on the narrative of the Beatitudes it is appropriate that the penultimate beatitude deals with peace and we have peace because the war is over. The conflict is resolved. We now, by God’s grace, work out how to live out the conflict resolution and seek to share it with others however we can. The vital ingredient remains however a peace with God before peace among men.

For His Name’s Sake
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