Fighting and conflict just seem to go with the territory of human interaction, don’t they? If you think about times in your life when things aren’t going your way or you don’t get what you want – what is your reflexive response to that? If there is another person involved in the frustration of your desires, how do you normally react to him or her? In my experiences, conflict of some kind is sure to follow such circumstances.
This Sunday as we read James 4:1-12, we will explore God’s plan for conflict resolution.
As you read the first 3 verses, what does James indicate as the source of interpersonal conflict? Does that sync with your own experiences?
Growing up in church culture I had continually heard James’ warning about “friendship with the world” as an admonition about the music I listen to or the TV shows I watch or the clothes I wear, but that really doesn’t seem to fit the context, does it? Given the context of fighting and quarreling, what do you understand “friendship with the world” to mean?
I find it really interesting that the motive James points to for correcting our approach to conflict is all relational. Marriage, friendship and a Creator who is jealous over our lives provide a much deeper motivation than a code of conduct with the threat of punishment. Have you ever had a friend who suddenly started treating you like an enemy? How did you feel – and does that help you understand God’s perspective when our choices defy his will?
James finishes off the section by giving some solid direction for how we can approach relational conflicts differently. How would you summarize his basic solution in v7-10? Can you see a way that following this pattern would resolve a conflict between people – how would that work?
V11-12 remind me of a quote from Joseph of the Desert Fathers: “If you want to find tranquility wherever you are, then, whatever you’re doing, say, ‘Me? Who am I anyway?’ and judge no one.” Can you imagine a life like that, and does it sound tranquil to you? What steps can we take to realize these truths in our lives?
Looking forward to exploring this on Sunday – hope to see you there!