Ephesians 1:17–19; Philippians 4:1–9
There is a pernicious thought floating around that if Christians really believed what they say they do; they would all think similarly. Sadly, that often comes from Christians who perceive they are not being heard or perceive that someone with whom they disagree is being heard.
In my immediate family, I am the person who hates tomatoes. Yes, they’re fine as ketchup and pizza sauce. Sometimes they’re okay as salsa (very rarely). Otherwise, no thank you. My wife, on the other hand, love tomatoes. Out of 3 of our kids, 2 like tomatoes, 1 not so much. We’re related! How could we not like the same things?
That is the same thought process required for all Christians to think the same.
Not seeing things the same is quite normal. We are all the culmination of our experiences, the experiences of trusted others, our hurts, our fears, our hopes, and our love. No one person is the same when you total all of that together, even identical twins (though they’re probably the closest).
How we disagree, however, is much bigger. If we could all disagree well, groupthink wouldn’t be an issue. When we disagree well, we each “feel” heard. When we disagree well, the decided path may not be ours, but because trust has been built, we are able to accept it.
That would be a wonderful way to live. Instead, the church is divided. It could be political lines. It could be music styles. It could be preaching styles.
The trick often is not responding out of our emotions and trigger-responses. Often, it is thinking, talking, and working it out together over time. Why do we think one path will work better than another? If we don’t have the answer to our own path, we will often dismiss other perspectives out of unconscious fear.
The other side effect is that our bonds are tested because people feel dismissed or ignored when there is no significant conversation. Without significant conversation, misunderstandings occur, feelings are hurt, and the church’s witness is damaged.
One of the great tests of the Christian community is how they love one another. How we argue with one another and discuss deeper things must be an outpouring of that exact same love.
1) What is something that is bugging you regarding a Christian brother or sister? Have you talked about it with that person, why or why not?
2) How do you dismiss the thoughts and perspectives of others (Christian or otherwise)? Think of the last time you disagreed with someone. Did you talk it through, or did you just do or command your way?
3) How do you reconcile with someone you perceive dismisses you? How will you reconcile with someone whom you dismissed.?
Lord, you want and direct us to love one another. Help us to do that well, especially when we disagree. Amen.
Ian is an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene, and is currently Co-Lead Pastor at Enumclaw Nazarene Church in Enumclaw, WA, USA.
He has previously served as Online Campus Pastor at Generations Community Church in Marysville, WA, USA; Associate Pastor at Snohomish Church of the Nazarene; College and Young Adult Pastor at Moscow Church of the Nazarene in Moscow, ID, USA.
Ian also writes at Starlyth.info (personal) and Nazarene.Digital (On Digital Transformation of the Church)