The seventh and last abomination to God’s soul: “a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

Conflict is part of life, but to consistently be the generator of that conflict is a sin.

So let’s talk some more. In the book of Philippians, Paul repeatedly addresses the subject of conflict. It must have been part of their church as much as it is part of many of our churches, and many of our lives. But as Paul (and Solomon) teaches us, conflict isn’t the problem; a contentious spirit, demeanor, and behavior are the problem.

Phil. 1.27: “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” That’s a good watchword for all conflict and disagreements. But then he goes on to teaching them to stand firm in “one spirit, contending…”. Paul is talking about teamwork. As athletes on a team strive for the same goal. As soldiers contend with their forces against another’s in battle.

Alexander the Great changed warfare. Instead of a battle being every man for himself as the two sides clashed, Alexander had his soldiers hook their shields together to fight as one unit. And because they acted as a unit instead of individuals, they were invincible.

How is it possible that so many different individuals, who have different perspectives and different opinions, work in unity? He explains it in Phil. 2.2-9. “Be like-minded. It refers to the attitude of the mind—to the WAY one thinks rather than WHAT. It allows people to disagree without generating conflict.
Same love for God – driven by the same urge and desire
One in spirit – souls that beat together, in tune with Christ and each other.
One in purpose – like clocks that strike at the same moment. Identity of ideas and harmony of feelings, despite not always agreeing.
Exclude selfish ambition and vain conceit
Look to the interests of others
Be a self-emptying, humble servant like Jesus.

It is the same qualities taught in Proverbs that make it possible: meekness, faith, power, and wisdom.

Phil. 2.14 says we should do everything without arguing. Mark Steele said, “Jesus can turn water into wine, but he can’t turn your whining into anything.” Touche.

We are called to be peacemakers (Mt. 5.9), and as much as it depends on us, to live in peace with all men (Rom. 12.18; 1 Cor. 7.15; 2 Cor. 13.11; 1 Thes. 5.13; Heb. 12.14).

That’s the difference between disagreement and conflict. There’s nothing wrong with disagreement. It’s not only expected, but it can be tremendously fruitful in many ways. We’re not supposed to just close our eyes and act stupid and agree to whatever anyone says in the name of a false unity.

What’s wrong is the contentious spirit that wants to push his or her own ideas, pursue one’s own position or opinion, is motivated by pride, just wants to put others in their place, is selfishly ambitious, etc. etc. That’s what destroys community.

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