I came upon an amusing footnote to a passage in the Bible that set me thinking.

Translators often use footnotes to highlight slight differences in translation between various early manuscripts. Well this one was from the ancient book of 2 Kings, chapter 14, where it says “[King] Amaziah sent messengers to King Joash of Israel, challenging him to a fight”. The footnote said “challenging him to a fight”, or ”inviting him to a conference.”

I was first amused that it was evidently possible to translate a phrase in two very different ways. Then I thought maybe there is some similarity between a fight and a conference.

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Not many conferences I have attended have turned into fisticuffs, but I do remember some heated meetings! Conferences typically are places where things, not people, are thrashed out in a calm environment.

I would imagine though, in some of those high stakes political meetings, it’s possible to come away feeling a bit battered. At the end of the day, conferences are about relationships, and these can easily turn into a “fight”.

Whenever two or more are gathered together, both peace and conflict are possible. Any meeting can turn nasty, whether it’s an international political summit, a chat between two mates in the pub, or what you hoped was going to be a cosy evening with the wife/husband/other - until he/she brought that up!

Relationships are slippery things, and good relationships even more so.

Our relationships are crucial, and it’s all too easy to spoil them with a harsh word or thoughtless comment. Workplace relationships can be particularly sensitive. We all want to work in a pleasant, harmonious team, but inevitably issues will arise. In one of his letters in the Bible, St. Paul writes powerfully about our relationships with each other, which fit well into the workplace scenario – “love one another, show respect, work hard, share your belongings, rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep…conquer evil with good.” (quotes from Romans chapter 12).

Jesus had a lot to say about relationships, and practiced what he preached, even forgiving those who crucified him. He had a special relationship with 12 people, his disciples, who went on to lead the new church after he rose from the dead. I’ve learned that the Christian life is all about relationship.

It’s a dynamic, exciting, day to day relationship with the creator who loves us. Much better than a fight!

By Patrick Woodward, who attends River of Life Church, Worthing.