Russ Whitfield, Reformed Theological Seminary
No matter where we’re from or what our culture may be, our experience from birth to death is marked by conflict. And we see this in every sphere and phase of life, from kids fighting over toys to adults fighting over politics. And this has been the case for centuries.
But conflict is not only external - it makes its home in each of us as well. Conflicted identity, conflicted desires, conflicted feelings, we all have experienced conflict in our own lives.
So what causes conflict, and is there an answer to it? The Bible says that the source of all of our conflict is rooted in our conflict with God. Our desire to put ourselves first instead of God creates problems when we bump into other people who put themselves first too.
But what’s stunning is that God’s response is not to withdraw and allow us to consume ourselves - he actually launches his grand plan of “conflict resolution”.
This is why Jesus came to earth. This Jesus, known as the “Prince of Peace”, came to end our conflict with God and one another; to bring us back into friendship with God, and to teach us how to put others first instead of ourselves.
Now we certainly must admit that many well-intentioned religious people - Christians included—have done some pretty terrible things in the name of faith. I mean - Crusades, Inquisitions, transatlantic slave trade, colonialism and a whole host of other terrible episodes have brought shame on the Christian church.
But I’d suggest that whenever Christians have caused such conflict, as I’ve done in the past, it’s not because we have too much Jesus, but too little. It’s a failure to live in accord with the moral beauty of Jesus, the “Prince of Peace”.
But if both religious and nonreligious people and organisations tend to put themselves first and make mistakes and cause conflict, is there any hope for true, lasting peace?
Thankfully, true Christian hope is not based upon our efforts or on the moral performance of the church, but in the ultimate peacemaking work of Christ.
What I’m saying is this - if Jesus is who he says he is, then we can see the end of conflict on the horizon. And his promise is that the peace that he achieved in his death, burial and resurrection will one day come into full bloom - it will blossom on this earth. One day he will return and bring that peace for which we’re all longing.
Jesus claimed to be the end of all conflict and the only way for us to find peace within ourselves, with others and with God. But this is a huge claim to make! And you probably have loads of questions. So I’d like to invite you to continue to explore this website and to get connected with a local church - you can find out about a good one on this website - so that you can continue the conversation.