Most of us are conflict avoidant. I know that I am. I think of it as a positive trait much of the time. Who wants unnecessary conflict filling the hours of a good day's work? Sooner or later we all come to terms with the fact that life is too short and it is not worth wasting on a gloomy disposition.
However, even for those of us that are less comfortable with conflict, we soon learn that it can not be avoided forever. There are times when we are no longer prepared to concede. There are times when we must allow our perspective to be heard. There are times when we must speak out on another's behalf. There are times when conflict is necessary, yes, even healthy.
Over the time period of Lent, we will be seeing the Gospel of Luke through the lens of love and conflict. What conflicts did Jesus embrace, even seek out? What conflicts did he resolve? How did he use conflict amongst his followers and within his culture to bring about change? How did conflict present an opportunity for growth and change?
If we remain long enough in any community, we will soon learn of the conflicts. Some of these are just a simple part of human nature, an image of human diversity. But other conflicts loom as vast deserted terrains. They have been long abandoned, but there are still there, taking up plenty of space. Perhaps a Lenten Journey for the people of God could be to explore how Jesus braved some of these First Century conflicts. How did he make his way through them, with respect and conviction, and most of all, love?
Love and conflict are not often paired together. Conflict is often unwelcome with a saccharine view of love. But love is rarely saccharine, at least, not the transformative kind. Not the Jesus kind. As I read it, the love of Jesus is bent on transformation. He seems to settle for nothing less than getting our imaginations wrapped around the idea of God's kingdom on earth. Conflict or not, that is his vision. Yet, it is born of nothing but love.
So, maybe conflict is not so bad after all. Maybe when it is born of love, it can actually bring forth peace, hope, and true resolution. This is our question for Lent. Let us see how the gospel shows us the way.