Addicted to Conflict
Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” Acts 6:11
Do you know those for whom conflict is a way of life? It appears as if these individuals aren’t happy unless they’re creating or maintaining some fight. They say things simply to provoke you and they know exactly which buttons to push to agitate you. They continually divide others, promoting disagreement on a variety of issues in everyone around them. I doubt that these instigators are aware of their addiction to conflict. They believe in what they’re doing. In church, they may even believe they’re doing God’s will in creating strife. These individuals are a naturally destructive force to any organization as, instead of building unity, they tear it apart from the inside.
These people drive me nuts. The problem of course, is that I sometimes find myself doing it. Unhappy with something at work, church, school, or the gym, I don’t address it maturely. Instead, I’m passive aggressive, attempting to rile others up about the thing I’m riled up about. Hey, did you know this? Isn’t that crazy? We should be upset about this together!
Today’s passage provides an example of such instigators. Stephen, a leader in the early church, was full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people (Acts 6:8). Some in the synagogue rose up and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking (Acts 6:9-10). In realizing they couldn’t win an honest debate with Stephen, they manufactured false opposition to him. Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God (Acts 6:11).”
This is where some of us often find ourselves. Agitated by something or someone, we attempt to inflame those around us. We feel better about our agitation if we can get others agitated too. In doing so though, we indulge in our pathologic need for conflict. What we should do, is have the maturity to either address the issue appropriately or just let it go. Instead though, we find comfort in creating strife.
There are, of course, times when conflict is unavoidable. The apostles created conflict simply by sharing the gospel. Here’s the question we must ask when we find ourselves in opposition to something: Are we being obedient to God’s will? Or, are we just creating conflict out of our own destructive desires?