An Interest of Conflict?
I was out in the car and came across a song. It is not a Christmas song, but it is undoubtedly a timely one. The song is about challenging obstacles in life, and one turn of phrase in the chorus grabbed me. One of the causes listed for these difficulties is an “interest of conflict.” Although this song was released 22 years ago, the phrase hits the nail on the head in our present.
And you know the HitchHiker; I just had to parse this out!
This phrase takes a common idiom, “conflict of interest,” and turns it on its head. By definition, conflict of interest is a situation in which a person’s best interest is not in the best interest of another to which the former owes their loyalty. Here’s an example: Every year, Presbyterian congregations discuss and vote on their pastor’s compensation package). When the topic is on the floor during the congregational meeting, the pastor is to excuse themselves to allow the people to speak freely; it would also be self-serving and inappropriate for the pastor to advocate for their raise.
When these words are swapped, you get an interest in conflict, meaning a person’s intent is to create conflict with or within another body because they are loyal to their point of view rather than the good of the body. They may even join others in this interest of conflict who hold a similar point of view. Here is an example: The Presbyterian pastor above intentionally stays in the meeting while the people are discussing and voting on their compensation and aggressively advocates for a more significant raise, even though it will not be advantageous for the church. They may even recruit shills from the congregation to take their side.
Our culture is suffering from a bad case of “tribalism.” In our attempts to “save” our point of view, we would rather see it full of animus and divided. We have chosen to exalt one’s tribe above another regardless of its ramifications on the collective. This behavior happens in culture, politics, and the world’s religions.
From the Christian perspective, I have to ask, “I wonder how our Lord and Savior feels about all our divisions?” He wants us to use our hearts, lay our interest of conflict aside, and do what is best for The Body of Christ. It also breaks his heart to see us not love those of other traditions, faiths, and even those without faith. After all, aren’t these our neighbors?