Raise your hand if you are a rule follower? I wish we could add emojis in our devotions because I would definitely use the girl with her hand raised emoji. I follow the rules for a variety of reasons, but a huge factor is I do not like being reprimanded, the conflict is soul-crushing. What is both horrifying and amazing is that God gives us a blueprint on how to handle conflict. I say horrifying because we have to learn how to have conflict, but amazing because God teaches us what healthy conflict looks like and it takes something dark and uncomfortable and creates something beautiful and strong.
As I was writing this devotion, I had a conversation with one of my best friends about how thankful we were that our friendship was unafraid of truth, true refining through honest and loving conflict. It made me think about the closest friendships I have in my life and how each one has had a form of truth, conflict, and some pretty difficult and awkward conversations. The conflict has produced strong, biblical, and lovely friendships in my life, which seems a bit backward. So why does conflict produce strong friendships?
Matthew 18:19-20 says, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” As I was reading Matthew chapter 18, it dawned on me that these verses, which are usually reserved for describing the Church are more about Jesus right in the middle of the pursuit of unity. God knows that conflict is difficult, but we cannot shy away from it. Instead, be comforted with His presence during our conflict. This is not to say that conflict and reconciliation always turn out stronger relationships. I also have former friendships that did not survive the conflict and attempt at reconciliation. Does this stop me from pursuing healthy relationships? No, but what it does show me is that when it is healthy and right, God is there pushing for unity in our relationships and even in a larger view, the Church. Unity is a precious gift from God, one not to be squandered by hurt feelings or unsaid conflict but pursued in the presence of God. Let that be our prayer and pursuit, unity in our relationships, and in the body of Christ. Oh, how we need unity in our world today, because that is where we find Jesus among us.