Right out the gate, there is nothing civil about war. No, all is NOT fair in love and war because if that were the case, then kingdoms would not have been divided over who couldn't marry whom, and Jesus' death would (a) never have happened or (b) not been so brutal.
A civil war is described as a battle between citizens of the same country. For the purpose of this exercise, we'll use the term metaphorically. It's no shocking surprise that most wars are first among people that are members of the same house. Crazy, right? Mark explains plainly how this is damaging, "If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. Although, the NLT version is more direct when it says, "Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart." (Mark 3:25) Mmm mmm mmm, issa whole word right there!
For a war to ensue, there is the presence of conflict, and conflict arises from disagreement. Meaning there is a difference of opinion—situations where two sides refuse to agree to disagree. And the idea of "… for peace sake!" is out of the question.
There are several kinds of conflict, but I want to zero in on 3:
Conflict with the self (man vs. self)
Conflict with others (man vs. man)
Conflict with the supernatural (man vs. God)
Balls to the wall
It seems when it comes to conflict, life is not in short supply. I had a best friend one time. She was my girl, and I'd be lying if I said that I don't often think about this incident or have great regret. Combing over every detail, trying to piece together how it could have gone differently.
Anyway, we didn't have a disagreement as much as it was a difference of opinion. And we both stood cemented in a stand-off position. I was sure I was right and that she was being selfish and insensitive. And while I can't speak for her, I can only surmise she perhaps felt slighted and backburnered.
I remember asking my sister about the situation and what I should do. Only I asked in hopes that she'd be on my side. I went into the conversation with a fixed mind; hence her advice fell on deaf ears.
She said, "Raquel, you should call her and apologize. You've been given the perfect opportunity to let your light shine!" Still, all the more, I dug into my position that I wasn't wrong and that she was overreacting. If there should have been any olive branches extended or white flags waving, it should be her! #PeriodT
One year later, I finally came off my high horse and sent her the long-overdue apology. She, of course, was not impressed and even went as far as to say I couldn't even see what I did wrong or knew why I was apologizing. While she was right, I didn't think it mattered what I did at this point as much as the acknowledgement that I did something wrong.
We never spoke again, but I saw her years later, and her look of disdain was very present and made known. A whole friendship is gone because two people could not, at the very least, have a civil conversation.
Lesson: the cost of pride is expensive.
That whole situation reminds me of what someone once said to me, "If you punch me in the mouth, just because you say sorry won't stop the bleeding." There are very few lines that stuck with me over the years, and that's one of them that did. It makes me mindful of my words and, even more so, my actions.
As humans, I think at some point, we've all been teased or delivered hurt of some kind at the hands of an insensitive, unaware person. Yet grown adults are neck-deep in Twitter wars, proud to drag folks for their beliefs and/or their momentary lapse in judgement. No grace seems to be given, but grace is usually expected. It's as if we're content setting the whole house on fire and then crying for help. Now no one has anywhere to live. Does that honestly make sense to you? I reiterate, there is nothing civil about war. No matter how shortlived, there will be casualties and the damage, more often than not, irreparable.
Lesson: there is much to be learned from past experiences if we can get over ourselves enough to learn the lesson.
Man vs. Self
I could be wrong, but sometimes the man vs. self dilemma has to somehow be rooted in pride. The main conflict in this type of story takes place within the character's mind. It usually involves the main character's inner struggle with self-doubt, morals, or his or her own nature.
When I think of the man vs self-conflict, I think many of us would immediately pick Job out of the line-up! Though his story can apply to all three conflicts.
Job loses everything after tragedy strikes: his children, his wealth, his livestock, his crops, his health, and even the relationship with his wife and friends. While Job knew he hadn't done anything wrong if he were a lesser man, those friends of his yammering in his ear would have made him feel justified in cursing God. #watchwhoseinyourear
But the more I pondered this, the more I could see Judas in deep conflict. I mean, for you to hang yourself, there had to be a significant inner war-waging. It's just my opinion, but the man vs. self-conflict is also probably deeply rooted in regret. (See Luke 22)
How many of us have ousted an innocent person? Profiting from any opportunity for financial gain or to gain an advantage. The thing about Judas, though, was he was chosen knowing his heart wasn't right. In the end, Judas confesses he'd done wrong and gave the money back, but by this time, it was too late. But now, at any given moment, you have the power to make a different choice.
Lesson: Unresolved inner conflict eventually leads to death for all parties involved.
Man vs. Man
In situations where persons are at odds with each other, there is usually a visible conflict. Such conflicts are external. The conflict may take the form of direct opposition, such as in a gunfight or a robbery, or its nature may be more subtle, such as in a situation-ship or a family drama.
The thing with man against man is the option to walk away or part ways are always on the table. It needn't come to blows or, heaven forbid, any bloodshed. Abraham and Lot showed us this. You pick a side; I pick a side and duces. Meet you at the crossroads or something.
However, the parting of Laban and Jacob was almost comical. Imagine Jacob feeling so slighted that he was like, "Nah, fam, as for me and my house, we outta here!"
Please make no mistake; Laban is what today we'd call a shyster. A con man if there ever was one. But then again, so was Jacob! Yes, this is the same Jacob, whose mama dressed him as his brother to get the blessing from his dying father. Whew, chall, if karma was a person.
Jacob gets swing into marrying Leah, thus working fourteen years altogether to have Rachel. Then Laban changed Jacob's wages ten different times. The flock that should have been Jacobs, Labon then gave to his sons. I mean, this man is the epitome of, 'if a piece of work,' was a person.
So imagine Jacob leaves Laban, but Laban goes after him, almost taking a 'how dare you' stance. #theaudacity Laban's real issue with Jacob, however, had nothing to do with trickery but more to do with his sons, who caused their father to look at Jacob sideways. Do you see a pattern developing here? Conflict usually starts when external forces are allowed to run interference.
Anyhew, Jacob's wealth started to increase, even after Laban continuously gave him the messy end of the stick. Now here comes Mr. Shysty himself (Labon) asking God (whom he didn't serve) to watch between him and Jacob. You know the Mizpah that so many of us church folk quoted as we would benedict from church? Yea that, that's not really a good thing. "May the Lord watch between me, and thee" is more of an 'I gat my eye on you' as supposed to, 'I hope God keeps us until we meet again.' Needless to say, because God appeared to Laban in a dream, this man versus man conflict ended with these men agreeing to go their separate ways. And by that, it means 'and don't come back either!'
Lesson: When envy distorts the truth, parting ways is not sweet sorrow. Sometimes it's necessary gain.
Man vs. God
If you haven't had a look up to the sky and wonder where in the Sam Hill is God, have you even been living?
It's a wonder that we are His creation, but many times, we usually find ourselves asking God, "Nah, what now." The man vs God conflict is one of fate and religion or might arise from a person's internal struggle or an external conflict with organized religion.
Noah and Jonah immediately comes to mind, though for very different reasons. Their stories show a contrast in how one can deal with a request from God and how, in either scenario, obedience is better than sacrifice.
In Noah's case, I seriously believed for a long time that the ark took a couple of weeks at best to build. (insert shocked emoji) Seriously, one hundred and twenty years—that's absolutely b-a-n-a-n-a-s! Meanwhile, in the 21st Century, we have a conniption when we've reached forty with no husband. I mean, I never read where Noah had an attitude or said, "God, You can't be serious!" Especially after seeing the specificity in which God instructed this ark to be built. Whew, chall, my constitution would not have been strong enough to see it through. (see Genesis 6) #butyougatstoseeitthrough
Now Jonah is my kind of person! "Go where Lord? Yeah, um, thanks for considering me for the position but issa no, a hard pass, Sir!" #respectfully He decided he'd do his own thing and take another route. While most times we hear about the life of Jonah, we concentrate on the whole whale fiasco. But I want to talk about what happens after that.
After preaching to Nineveh and warning them that their city would be destroyed in 40 days, the Ninevites repented, and God showed mercy to them. Jonah became angry and bitter because the Ninevites were Israel's enemy, and God didn't destroy them! (see Jonah 4)
The following day, a worm ate the vine, and Jonah complained. God reprimanded him for being so concerned about one plant, while God was concerned about 120,000 lives in the city of Nineveh.
Now ain't that some mess? The things we should be concerned about or carrying to God we bypass and instead maximize the frivolities. We rather keep highlighting our bad experiences with someone rather than praise God for changing them. We seem hell-bent on fueling the bases of war, by waking up and choosing problems over peace rather than being the one to take the high road.
Lesson: God never loses a battle. You can come willing, or by happenstance, take ya pick.
Boots on the ground
While many of our wars are not fought with weapons, in our everyday lives, we fight with words and deeds. Those, to me, are the real weapons of mass destruction. At the end of the day, there is a war, but it shouldn't be civil, meaning amongst kinfolk.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12 NLT)
Just as God forgives once we repent, I ask you to extend that same grace to someone in your life who shows remorse. To them, that gesture may be just as significant as a whale swallowing a man in order to save the lives of many. (shrugs shoulders) I'm just saying!
Lesson: Life will happen, at some point, you will probably get screwed and you'll be asked to do things outside of your comfort zone. Each time you can choose your response. Make the right choice.