As disciples, followers of Jesus Christ – Christians – we all have to deal with many questions and issues. Often we will disagree about many things. So, how do we deal with these issues? There are many options.
We can, of course, take a hard-line stance on our own particular opinions and views on things. This leads to an “I am right and whoever disagrees is wrong.” Far too often within Christendom this is the approach taken. This has been the situation since the earliest days of Christianity and it continues today. Wars have been fought over these differences. We’ve not come to that here, but we have had strife and hurt. People have left the church because of those differences. Is this what we seek?
People who have been exposed to the Good News but see us fighting among ourselves ask what the nature of our beliefs are. Many are turned away from accepting Jesus Christ not because of His message, but how we deliver it. This includes the infighting.
Here are a some very basic questions I would ask that you consider when differences arise:
1. What are the essential, most fundamental foundations of being a Christian? What differentiates a Christian from those of other beliefs or faiths?
2. A related question is what makes someone a non-Christian? (Here I am talking about “true followers”, not self-proclamation. But then, just what does that mean?)
3. If we are saved by grace, do doctrinal differences such as our understanding of the elements in Holy Communion, timing and method of baptism or set day for communal worship really make a great difference to God? (Please note that I am NOT saying that these things are unimportant. More I am asking you to consider what makes them important to you.)
As we explore and define our understanding of important issues such as those listed above (and there are hundreds more), we have a huge opportunity to delve deeper into our own foundations of belief as well as to present the results of our explanation to others. I see this as a good thing for all when we are able to use this exchange to deepen our own personal relationships with God. Well thought out and prepared positions cause us to do so not only for ourselves, but also for others (even though their own positions may differ from ours.)
When we discuss or debate (not argue) differing positions, we may need to be thick-skinned at times. That “other person” may well hold their opinions as strongly as you do your own.
When you are dealing with a “hot button” issues, pause before you respond. Consider whether you are responding to the issue itself, doing so in a well-reasoned manner. Or are you responding to the person or they way they presented their “case” or “cause.”
In reading some of these “hot topic” blogs or comments recently I have found myself needing to leave the blog and return a bit later. I’ve also found that I need to read, as best I can, what is being said rather than how it has been said.
Collectively we are the Body of Christ. Let us all strive to be that always.