When I saw the headline, I braced for bad news: "A Mom and Her Sons Bowed Their Heads to Pray at a Restaurant." I assumed that someone objected to their public prayer, and wondered if I was going to read about another challenge to religious liberty.
Instead, here's what happened. After the Oklahoma family prayed over their food, an anonymous benefactor paid for their meal and wrote on the check: "Because you prayed, we paid. Continue to raise your sons in Christ. God Bless."
If only all relationships ended so well.
A Detroit MacDonald's worker tricked a homeless man into thinking he would get free food in the drive-through window, then threw water at him. The FBI has charged members of a white supremacist group in Richmond, Virginia, with plotting to blow up synagogues and black churches. When Pope Francis visits Kenya, 10,000 police officers and 10,000 members of the National Youth Service will be needed for security. The U.S. and China are stepping up their space-based military systems, extending war zones from earth to the skies above.
Where has conflict found you today? What relational challenges are you facing? How can Scripture help?
God says of Christians, "You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house" (1 Peter 2:5). When we trust Christ as our Lord, we become the temple of God wherein his Spirit dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16). As with any owner, our Master wants his house to be the best it can be.
One way God improves his house is by redeeming conflict. Hosea called to his people, "Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us" (Hosea 6:1). Our Father wants us to "press on to know the Lord" (v. 3), since he desires "the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings" (v. 6).
Knowing Christ and making him known are the highest priorities of life. God can use conflict to draw us closer to him, showing us that our reliance on anyone but Jesus is a form of co-dependent idolatry that limits his best for our lives.
Can you see your conflicts as God's invitation to trust more fully in his redemptive grace? (Tweet this) Will you ask your Father to use your relational challenges to make you more like his Son? Changed people change the world. When others see us manage conflict with purpose and gratitude, they will be drawn to the Source of our strength and hope.
So trust that the Master Carpenter is using conflicts to remodel your "house" into his temple. C. S. Lewis: "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps you can understand what he is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.
"But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.
"You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but he is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself."
Where is God remodeling your spiritual house today?
Note: For more on managing conflict and finding forgiveness, please see my Just War and Personal Conflict: A Veterans Day Reflection.
Publication date: November 12, 2015
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
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