All weekend, I felt in a state of conflict with other Christians. First it was in a specific relationship, then it was a more general disagreement with something going on at my church. Last night when I realized how close together the conflicts were, I wondered what God was trying to teach me. I looked up verses about discernment, thinking that theme might speak to the situations, but I still wasn't sure what point God was trying to drive into me. I left it to think and pray about till today.
This morning as I contemplated the conflicts from the last two days, the theme of humility came to mind. First, whenever I am in conflict, I have to deny my pride, and second, I think the main thing that upset me recently was feeling a lack of humility in others. I looked up verses on humility and found Philippians 2:2-5. I'll start with verse 2. Paul says:
Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
I feel defeated by the very first command here. The whole reason I get into a conflict is because I can't agree with the other person! Sometimes you disagree with someone and neither person is going to convince the other. And to clarify, I'm not talking about doctrine or Biblical truths. I'm talking about personal disagreements, the kind that involve my opinions and preferences.
How do I still love that person and work together with one mind and purpose if I know I disagree with her? This is what I think God is telling me: The point is to agree wholeheartedly about Christ, not to get everyone to agree with everything I think -- every little opinion I have. Being one in mind can't possibly mean that I cling to my own feelings and preferences, and you cling to yours, and we butt heads to trying to convince each other. How would even two people be of one mind, let alone the whole church? The only way is to be of one mind and purpose with Christ, and that is what unifies us with one another.
I think that's basically what Paul is saying in verses 3-5 (NLT):
Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
If I want people to agree with me, I'll always be in some conflict. But if I focus on agreeing with Christ, and in conflict I point others to His mind and purpose instead of arguing my own, maybe things will work out very differently. I don't need to look out for myself -- I can relinquish that burden and consider others, knowing that Christ considers me.