Since we are walking through Romans 14 and 15 in the next few weeks, I want to highlight a few thoughts on what to do when Christians disagree.
Christians Can and Will Disagree With Each Other. We aren’t alike–and that’s okay! This statement always comes as a surprise to new believers, but those of us who’ve been around for a while accept it as a given. Sometimes new Christians come into the church thinking everyone always agrees with everyone.
It doesn’t take long for that balloon to burst. Every church, no matter how large or small, includes people with a wide range of opinions joined by our common allegiance to Jesus Christ. We are unified by the basics of Evangelical Christianity, See the VCF doctrinal statement called “What We Believe” at www.vcflynden.com
After the basic non-negotiable tenants of our faith, there are wide, very wide preferences, from how you wear your hair or clothes, to not mowing your lawn on Sunday. If you think of all the “rules” that have been made by “church rules” over the years, it is exhausting to keep up with them. If you make a list of ‘do’s and don’ts,’ two observations can be made:
1) Some things that appear “silly” to you seem very serious to other Christians.
2) If we asked 10 Christians to make a list into “silly” and “serious” categories, we may get 10 different answers.
Disagreement is Not Always Wrong or Sinful. If you have strong feelings about men wearing beards or listening to Rush Limbaugh, you’ll have a hard time accepting those who either disagree with you or simply don’t care about “your” issue one way or the other. People who disagree with us are not necessarily wrong or in sin. Sometimes our upbringing and tradition influence our preferences rather than about what God approves or disapproves. Sometimes it’s simply because of our differing temperaments or because of the spiritual gifts God has given us.
Accepting Others Requires Humility Above All Other Virtues. A few weeks ago, I defined humility as understanding God is God and I’m not! Truly humble people are free from the burden of having to play God for other people. Once you decide that you can let God be God, then you can also relax and let him deal with other Christians regarding these secondary issues.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have an open conversation. Open discussion is a mark of a healthy relationship. For example, from last week, Let the meat-eaters and vegetarians challenge each other’s position–but only if they can do it in love and with deep respect. They may be able to encourage you by their position. Humility doesn’t mean no discussion; BUT it does mean no animosity, no name-calling, no unfair accusations.
I’ve observed 2 things about humility:
1. God blesses people I disagree with.
2. God sometimes blesses people I wouldn’t bless if I were God.
Sometimes I’m frustrated by those facts, especially when I see God blessing someone who seems to be profoundly wrong in preferences I disagree with. But humility forces me to admit that if God is God, he is free to bless anyone he chooses, and he doesn’t have to ask my permission before doing it.