The Assumption of Conflict
This one line is sticking with me this morning from today's Hebrew scripture readings..."In the spring, the time when kings go to war...." (I Chron 20: 1)
What a chilling commentary on human nature. It strikes close to the marrow of our being, and assumes conflict in our lives as both to be expected, and to be seasonal/cyclic in nature. As sure as spring is a time for planting crops and delivering the offspring of livestock, it is also a time for war. No small part of me rebels at this thought. It shouldn't be this way. Sadly, though, we have to be honest: it is this way with us.
Anyone who has spent any time working or volunteering in a hospital's emergency room knows that the level of bizarre human behavior resulting in injury ramps up dramatically during a full moon. We would hope that our nature would be a little more rational in aspect, but given the data and personal experiences we have all had, I would challenge us to accept that we are not too far removed from these cyclical, consistent seasons wherein conflict and acting out are to be expected.
The psalmist depicts this tension brilliantly, highlighting the tension between a desire to be as constant as God with regard to the statutes and precepts of the Covenant. Obedience to the Law should bring harmony, equanimity and peace. Instead, enemies and conflicts loom up on all sides. They even erupt in the heart and mind of the psalmist him/herself. How frustrating, how heartbreaking it is knowing that no matter how hard we try, we cannot overcome the basic and ever-present assumption of conflict in our lives.
Still, as we have learned thus far, there is always hope. Romans strives to remind us that in Christ, God has put paid all of the deficits created (or yet to be created) by sin, disharmony and conflict. Before, under the Law, our inconstancy and demonstrably cyclical habits of breaking covenant with God are put to rest. In Christ, the willingness of God turns us all toward a new way of being of God while at the same time being in the craziness of life. While we still will have to deal with kings traipsing off to war in the spring (or the non-metaphorical equivalent) and the cyclical conflicts that we know only too well, we will also always have the consolation of Christ to bear us through.
Chapter 8 in Romans is one of the most powerful witnesses to God's constant love and mercy toward us in the face of all assumed human (and celestial) conflict. NOTHING can separate us from the love of God, for in Christ all of that is ultimately overthrown. We still have to deal with the assumptions of conflict in this life; but we can at the same time give thanks, for God is with us. Through every harrowing, nail-biting moment....God is with us.