Disagreeing Like a Christian
Here’s a not-so-shocking guarantee: you will disagree with someone very soon. It is an inevitability of human life. If you still doubt it for some reason, just watch about 30 minutes of a cable news channel and you should be good.
The church should be experts on disagreeing. There’s good evidence that we’ve been disagreeing (sometimes quite vehemently) from the very beginning (check Paul’s letters to the Corinthians as an example). So we should have perfected the art of disagreeing as Christians called to love one another. The polarization in our culture today should be a ripe opportunity for us followers of Jesus to teach the world how to disagree in love, without discounting an entire person. We’re certainly not there yet, but I’ve been trying to recognize loving ways of disagreeing. Here are some that I have noticed.
Seeking Understanding Before Snap Judgments – When I first heard that some Native American groups were protesting using “Redskins” for an NFL team, there was a part of me (and many others) that initially thought, “Ahh, that’s not that big a deal.” That’s an easy jumping off point to talk about how we’ve lost our country because of political correctness. But then I realized that I have no idea what it is like to be a Native American, especially in the U.S. today. If I can follow the example of Jesus and many others in the faith that I respect, I will always listen to “the other” before I make my snap judgment. I will seek to understand their position before I just dismiss it in a very hurtful way.
Seeking the Third Way – Sometimes we are called to take a firm stance on a particular issue, but there are also times when we choose to stand with people instead of choosing a side. The Pharisees couldn’t see a third way when they brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus. In their minds Jesus either had to stand up against adultery by condemning the woman or approve of adultery by standing up for the woman. But Jesus saw a third way that they could not see. “Let anyone without sin throw the first stone.” Instead of simply condemning the woman or condoning her action, Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of the crowd and was able to stand with the woman when all had left.
Be Comfortable with Being Grey – I believe there are moral absolutes in our universe, that there is black and white, but I do not trust my ability to make that call in every case. I find a gray-ness to the gospel. By accepting God’s grace, I am admitting that I do not have all the answers and need all of God’s help that I can get. Paul had to teach the church in Corinth about being comfortable with gray. They were fighting because some members were still going to feasts and eating food sacrificed to idols. Paul’s answer as to whether or not this was okay was basically, “It depends.” He says the idols are fake so they have no power so you will not harm yourself by eating it. However, he points out that some who are new to the faith may be tempted to believe again in these false gods by eating the food. So, it depends. I love this story because Paul is telling them that you have to decide what the loving thing is to do for the person, and your answer to that may put you on different sides of the issue. Always love people first, and let that determine wherever you might fall on any issue.