Updated: Aug 20, 2020
Have you had this realization recently?
It could be Coronavirus, wearing masks/face coverings, racial justice, Portland's issues, going back to school, the economy, or the little election coming up in less than three months but some people may not agree with you on all these issues and things are getting crazy!
I know it can be hard to stomach, creating all kinds of inner emotional turmoil and even startling you...but not everyone sees the world the way you do.
What?? Those "everyones" must be flawed!
I am poking fun but I am a victim of this too. As I talk to people at Mt Ridge church and outside the church who don't agree with me, I can walk away thinking, "how could they think/believe that?"
I will admit with embarrassment, I have rewound some those conversation through my head questioning why my expert explanation, emotionally compelling insights, questionable news stories, Facebook posts and undeniable logic didn't help them see how I am right (and of course they are wrong). I find my pride likes to show up in these situations.
As a follower of Jesus, this really hits on two levels. How do I interact with believers who don't agree with me? And, how do I interact with people who don't follow Jesus and disagree with me?
You can watch a message HERE (will be available August 24th) about how to disagree with those who don't follow Jesus. Choose the video called It's Not You, It's Me from the Shift series (HINT: it is about creating connections and extending invitations, respectfully connecting instead of emotionally reacting)
What about other people who follow Jesus but don't agree with me? There is a great quote that does a terrific job of summarizing what the New Testament says about this exact issue. It has been around a long time. Some attribute it to Augustine but It seems like it may have come from a relatively unknown German Lutheran theologian around 1627 named Rupertus Meldenius (which is much harder to say than Augustine...maybe that explains the confusion!)
He says this:
In essentials, UNITY
in non-essentials, LIBERTY
in all things, CHARITY
My man Rupertus had it going on!
When it comes to the Essentials of faith, who Jesus is, Salvation, the Resurrection, Loving God and Loving our neighbors we have to fight for unity. We can't give these things up without giving up our faith. If we don't agree on these essentials, we aren't really the same faith. Jesus himself prayed with deep longing for us to be unified. Paul pleads with us to realize we are one in faith, one in Christ, one in the Spirit and with one hope, Eph 4:4-5.
If someone disagrees with us on the essentials, we go back to thinking and connecting with them as outsiders, working to connect respectfully and invite them into the faith.
Non-essentials. That is hard to define right now because it seems like everyone is declaring everything to be essential. Part of the cancel culture says if you don't agree with me on everything you are my enemy! It has no place for follower of Jesus. Even Morgan Freeman says "just because I disagree with you doesn't mean I hate you"
If you and I genuinely and passionately disagree about something that is not an essential matter of faith I want to exercise liberty, or another term could be to give you grace. I can't judge you, condemn you, cancel you or avoid you. you are my brother or sister and sometimes not everyone in the family agrees on everything but that doesn't remove you from the family! We may disagree but I am on your side!
In all things, charity. Charity is on old fashioned word for love. But it is a different love than loving ice cream and tolerating other people. Charity is a love “which binds everything together in perfect harmony” Col 3:14. Love covers a multitude of sins, love never fails, love compels us. We are know by our love. Jesus said to his disciples and us, love each other (that wasn't new they had heard that before), as I have loved you! Wow, he defined love by a standard, if you want to know how to love someone who disagrees with you, love them the way I have loved you!
I know it is hard when people disagree. I also know how divisive things have been over these last several months and there is potential for even more as we approach the election. One of the wisest things you can do is determine how you are going to respond to people who disagree with you before it happens.
I am praying for you, for all of us, even if the rest of the world is tearing itself apart, I pray we will be unified around Jesus, give grace to each other and love in all things!