Why is it so easy to blame others when we are in conflict? In this fifth sermon of our Next Level Relationships series, Greg looks at what our brains and bibles can tell us about blame and how to navigate conflict.
Blame is a universal trait of fallen humanity. Most of us are so emotionally invested in being right and looking innocent that we can’t address conflict logically. Why is that? There is both a scientific and biblical explanation.
The scientific explanation:
In a study conducted to see how people handle getting their core beliefs challenged. Participants were put in MRIs that looked at activity in their brain while, experimenters challenged their beliefs. They found that the amygdala is stimulated in these types of situations. The amygdala is the same part of the brain responsible for the fight or flight response. Meaning that our brains experience someone challenging our beliefs in the same way our brains experiences someone threatening our lives. However, evidence is showing that will/choice plays a role, and people are not fated to overreact to challenging situations.
The Biblical explanation:
In Genesis 3 after Adam and Eve have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil they hide. When God asks them what has happened Adam blames God and Eve, and Eve blames the serpent. When we fall under the influence of Satan (the accuser), we become mini-accusers and take on his image. This is one of the primary marks of the fall: we believe lies about God and therefore try to find our significance and worth from other things (often what we believe, say, or do).
The scientific study with the MRI shows a physical manifestation of what the bible says is happening in our souls. As a result of the fall, the way we were designed to operate has been broken and we are trying to find our life from the wrong things. When we get into conflict we experience it as someone challenging our source of life and our significance. No wonder we overreact! The good news is Jesus’ work on the Cross reverses this pattern and sets us free. We can now know God’s character and get our significant and worth from Jesus.
Greg often repeats a mantra of “My life is Christ nothing else really matters” as he goes about his day. This is to remind his brain where his source of life comes from.
Tips for negotiating conflict:
- Find your life in Christ. In any conflict situation if we forget where our source of life is we feel like we are negotiating or fighting for our worth and significance. Instead, in conflict we remember who we are in Christ, and step back and ask “what is true here?” Since, our worth is not at stake we can be honest about the ways we might be wrong and try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. Practically speaking, we can remember that we have an amygdala and if it does get over heated in conflict, walking away and taking a break for 20 minutes can help us come back more fully resourced.
- Practice spending time with God. Ask the Spirit to bring you Jesus and open up your imagination to see Jesus saying to you all the truths He tells you in scripture. Get grounded in the truth before conflict even starts.
So, in the midst of conflict and difficult situations remember to look inward and be willing to humbly confess what you may have done, while remembering your life and identity are safe in Christ.
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