I Hate Conflict
There must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 1 Corinthians 11:19
In the recovery or accountability groups I attend, it’s the job of those in the group to uphold certain truths. The group exists to keep each other on the path to recovery and life. As individuals, we often stray. When this happens, it’s the purpose of the group to correct the course of the wayward individual before disaster ensues. It’s not uncommon for someone in the group to present an idea or behavior that he cannot see as self-destructive, but which is painfully and obviously wrong to everyone else.
I can have a drink with my friends. My struggle isn’t with alcohol, it’s with drugs. So, I’m fine just having one or two drinks. When this happens, the easiest thing to do is to just go along. Most of us hate conflict, and so, the path of least resistance is to simply roll over and agree. Well, I can see you’ve though this through. Good luck in your endeavors . . .
Conflict avoidance isn’t the purpose of the group though. To serve its purpose, those in the group must stand for truth and call out the absurd when we see and hear it. I disagree. That’s ridiculous. That’s how people relapse. Don’t do this. It’s uncomfortable to disagree, but in this context, it’s absolutely necessary for the good of the individual and the health of the group. Ducking conflict, simply for the sake of avoiding discomfort, can be as destructive as any addiction.
Paul said as much in today’s passage. In it, he chastised the Corinthians for their gluttony, selfishness, and pride. He recognized the divisions in their church and admitted that such divisions must exist so that those who were genuine in their faith would stand apart. When so many were following their own appetite, it was actually a good thing to see those who refused to follow the crowd. Those who insisted on walking the narrow path of life, by definition, lived in contrast and conflict with those who followed themselves.
Most of us dislike conflict. To be sure, there are those who seek it out. They’ve got their own issues. For most of us though, we’d just prefer to go along to get along. According to Paul though, standing for the truth sometimes means living in conflict with others. We’re not to seek conflict, but following Christ means that we will often be walking a path that is in contrast and conflict with those around us, sometimes even with those in our own Christian circles.