We sat contemplatively around the table, speaking softly about the struggles of marriage. I complimented her on her courage because for some reason, we feel shame when we admit our marriage is in trouble. I know because I’ve been there and felt it, too.
I begin to share some of my own heart and experiences with my ten year old marriage, wisdom attained through the really hard places. Unfinished wisdom that still percolates and wisdom I know but don’t always allow my actions and choices to show it.
I then share some heart changes I had to make in order for my own marriage to survive.
After I shared, she sat quietly and said, “I just don’t agree with you.”
And at first, I was caught off-guard because it’s tough when someone challenges you, isn’t it?
Sometimes when we’re challenged, fear slinks around our unsuspecting neck and starts to choke us until the only thing we can possibly do is come out swinging in an attempt to defend.
Defense is human nature.
But it’s in the defending, driven by the fear that we might have to re-think what we’ve always believed, where we allow differing opinions to destroy and divide.
As I drove home from dinner with my friend, I realized a truth I’ve failed to understand for so long:
Just because we’re Christians, doesn’t mean we’ll always agree.
Certainly, we all must agree on the gospel because that’s what makes us Christians.
But what if someone has a different opinion than you about women in church leadership? What if someone feels differently about homosexuality? What if someone believes in a different kind of marital submission?
What then? Is that OK?
Yes, friends. It’s absolutely OK. In fact, we need to embrace these differing opinions because without disagreement, we aren’t forced to really ever examine what we think we believe.
And I know the argument is to look at scripture and yes, scripture is our truth. However, of those three “hot” topics listed above, I’ve heard pretty convincing arguments for both sides of the equation that are all scripturally sound.
But here’s the thing: no matter where you go to church, these divisive issues will remain. They’re not going away and honestly, I think we’ll be debating them until Jesus comes back.
Because here’s the other thing we all need to just accept: there are things on this side of heaven we simply just won’t know.
Though we (and you know I include myself in that “we,” don’t you?) tend to complicate our faith, it’s really so very simple:
Love your God above all else. Then love your neighbor as yourself.
Loving our neighbor includes listening to their hearts without judgment or defensive language. It means that sometimes we simply have to say, “I have a different opinion but that’s OK because you’re more important to me than who’s right or wrong.” It means you see the eternal picture rather than the one that’s right in front of you.
If you are seeking a church where everyone agrees on everything and the pastor aligns with all of your opinions, you’ll be attending your church alone.
It’s alright for Christians to disagree. It’s not alright to disagree using judgment and hate; but it is absolutely alright to disagree with love for your neighbor. Big difference.
When we spend time debating over what divides us, we forget what unites us: Jesus.
And we’ve got a bigger challenge on our hands when we forget about Him.