At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, I must say that our world is filled with conflict! But conflict is nothing new to the human experience. In the Bible, the Apostle James presents an interesting point about the source of conflicts in James 4:1-3. James writes: “Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you? You desire and you do not have; you murder and envy and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask; you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, so you can spend it on your passions.” (NET: New English Translation)
James suggests (and I agree!) that the source of many conflicts and disputes are internal! In other words, many of the problems that people have with other people stem from problems they have within themselves! Now, if a person is conflicted within themselves, they will naturally have conflicts with other people. If a person can’t get along with themselves; they certainly won’t be able to get along with others! James suggests a big problem is that people ask (God), but they do not receive because they ask with the wrong motivation. That is the one of the main issues I have with the proponents and followers of the so-called ‘prosperity-gospel.’ It seems to me that the main reasons and motivations for faith, prayer, blessings, and prosperity for those who espouse the prosperity gospel is for personal consumption and comfort; not so that the will of God might be done! But at any rate, I digress, let me get back to my main point: conflict sources and resolution principles.
In addition to what the Apostle James says, conflicts are also caused by ‘false beliefs.’ Two of the main false beliefs that cause conflicts are the belief in limitation and the belief in separateness. The belief in limitation is the belief that there is not enough to go around or that there is not enough for everybody. Ironically in some cases, it is the belief in limitation that causes limitations! When people believe there is not enough, they will hoard and stockpile resources, which may in some cases, limits other people’s access to those resources. In turn, the other people, who feel unjustly deprived, might be motivated to rob, steal, or otherwise, get those resources away from the hoarders!
But the truth of the matter is; there really are no limitations, excepts for the limitations we entertain in our own minds! My wife and I recently took a trip to the mountains. As we looked at the vast display of God’s glory in nature, we were amazed by the fact that with so many people in the world, there is still an abundance of open space and land practically untouched by man! We observed an abundance of trees, water, air, and nature! There truly is enough to go around! In fact, there is more than enough! But limitations occur because of the false belief in limitation, which in turn, causes people to hoard resources, which in turn, causes some people to seek to rob, steal, kill, and otherwise take what others have because they think others having is the reason they don’t have! The false belief of limitations sponsors the idea that life is a competition for resources. Therefore, we all are competing, and in all competition, there are winners and losers! Consequently, in order for me to win in life, it is necessary that you lose or vice versa! The results of this false belief is naturally; conflict!
The other false belief that is a main source of conflict is the belief in separateness. Simply put, this is the belief that every person is ‘distinctly separate’ from every other individual. Now in a sense, there is a certain degree of separateness, that’s why we are called; ‘individuals.’ But at the core of our existence; we are all ‘one!’ When all the racial, ethnic, cultural, social, and skin-color layers are removed; we are all one! We all came from the same Source!
Racial conflicts stem from the false belief of separateness! But biologically and spiritually, every human is one with every other human! Doctors will confirm that blood and other essential body parts from African-Americans are easily transplantable into a compatible Anglo-Saxon Caucasian recipient! I wonder how many avowed White racists would refuse a heart transplant and die just because the donor was a Black person?
In the Bible, in Jeremiah 13:23, the proverbial questions are asked: “Can the Cushite change his skin, or a leopard his spots?” Of course, the answer to both questions is; ‘no!” But then other questions arise: Why should or why would the Cushite and the leopard want to change their skin and their spots? It is foolish to discriminate against people because of the color of their skin on several fronts! Number one: No person has any control over the color of their skin! No one chooses their racial ethnicity. Therefore, no person can rightfully boast or be ashamed of their racial ethnicity! Secondly, as the Temptations (the singing group) sang years ago: “Beauty is only skin-deep!” The color of a person’s skin says nothing about their character or personality! Therefore, when all of the layers are removed, we are all the same and to mistreat one another is to mistreat ourselves! Not only that, but to mistreat one another is to mistreat the Source from whence we all came! Or, as the Apostle John put it in the Bible: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 Jn. 4:20-5:1 KJV) We are all brothers in a sense because we all came from God!
The greatest resolution principle of all time is the Golden Rule! Jesus said: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 NASB: New American Standard Bible) It’s so simple! Most conflicts can be resolved by just simply treating other people the way you want to be treated! It you don’t want to be abused; don’t abuse! If you don’t want to be discriminated against; don’t discriminate! If you don’t want to be killed; don’t kill! If you don’t want to be taken advantage of; don’t take advantage of others! Nothing overtly religious or even holy or spiritual about it! It’s just common sense and human decency! Most conflicts would be resolved or even avoided by simply following the Golden Rule!