Summary: Why does conflict happen in the body of Christ?
Conflict in the church
In Charles Colson’s book, the Body, there is a chapter entitled “Extending the right fist of Fellowship.” It tells the story of and event that took place in the Emmanuel Baptist Church of Newton, Massachusetts, when a church conflict actually broke out into a fistfight at the altar of the church.
It was the right hook that got him. Pastor Waite might have stood in front of the communion table trading punches with head deacon Ray Bryan all morning, had not Ray’s fist caught him on the chin 2 minutes and 15 seconds into the fight. Waite went down for the count at the altar where most members of Emmanuel Baptist Church had first declared their commitment to Christ.
Within and instant, the majority of the congregation converged on the communion table, punching or shoving. The melee soon spilled over to an open space between the organ. Mary Dahl, the director of the Dorcas Society, threw a hymnal; the missile sailed high and wide and splashed down in the baptistery behind the choir.
When Ray’s right hook finally took the pastor down, someone grabbed the spring flower arrangement from the altar and threw it high in the air in Ray’s direction. Water sprinkled everyone in the first two rows on the right side, and a visiting Presbyterian experienced complete immersion when the vase shattered against the wall next to his seat. The fight ended when the police arrived on the scene.
Proverbs 13:10 says, “Pride only breeds quarrels,” (NIV) It is pride that makes us lust and covet and envy. Whenever conflict is in our lives as believers it is born out of the flesh. When our flesh is fed we are capable of doing anything, or saying anything.
James doesn’t mix words. Remember he is the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. He writes this word to believers at the church in Jerusalem to show them and us Practical Christian Living. He tells us that Conflict in the Church must be dealt with. This mentality that problems just go away really isn’t true. Conflict will always be there because we believers have a pride problem.
Gary Smalley says, “In most cases people respond to conflict in two ways;
They withdraw—Feeling that they are wrong or that their beliefs and views aren’t valued can lead to feelings of inferiority. The conflict is never resolved because feelings get tucked away.
They get angry—This person tends to attack verbally. Backed into a corner they mi8ght come out swinging, (just like the altar brawl earlier). If they don’t resolve the conflict the anger comes out in other ways.
So let’s today see how the Bible defines conflict in the life of the believer.
I. The Reason for Conflict (v.1) The word “desires” means to crave pleasure; to crave gratification. This Scripture says that desire for pleasure and gratification wars within our bodies. The picture is that of constant warfare, of our bodies craving, yearning, pulling, urging, desiring, and grasping after whatever will gratify our pleasure.