Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Proverbs 4:7 NIV
Seek first to understand. This sentence has been a guide and a convicting agent for change in me when it comes to conflict. I try to consider all sides of an argument or what's fueling behavior in people when conflict escalates. I notice how abruptly people can change. Maybe you have too. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was written in 1886 by a Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson. The novella explored how dual personalities can exist within one person. The title influenced a common reference to a radical behavior change people often refer to as Jekyll and Hyde. Evidently, many people seek to understand the conflict within us.
I think self-assessment is an excellent spiritual discipline to practice. The work of transformation can begin with our internal world. We can seek to understand what's going on within us spiritually, psychologically, emotionally and physically. But, I don't think our journey ends there. I think God calls us to more.
I think it's tempting to limit our understanding to personal conflict often because it takes up so much of our time and energy. John Paul Lederach suggests there is one guiding question that needs to drive our desire for transformation. He challenges us to consider how we can end something not desired and build something we do desire. Lederach suggests the work of reconciliation is more than personal. It's the gospel message for the lost and broken world.
Reconciliation is God's intention for all of humanity. Our mission is to align ourselves with God who is working to reconcile all things to himself. God's desire is to bless all families on the earth. The Apostle Paul describes this dynamic vision of the new humanity as possible through Christ Jesus. He is the first-born of the new creation. He provides the possibility of a new relationship. Jesus acted decisively. He moved toward people, pain and conflict. His desired outcome is a new relationship. As followers of Christ, our mission is to move toward people, pain and conflict where ever they are in the world.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. Many believe it was God's great dream for humanity. Let's dream together and imagine what could happen if we embraced such a transformational vision. What action are we being mobilized to take? Where is the risk or greatest conflict emerging? Imagine the new relationships that could be waiting to be forged. Our faith beckons us to join the cloud of witnesses who wait in eager anticipation of what the people of God can do.
"For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility." Ephesians 2:14-16 NIV