Our aim is to be a united body of Christ. One body on one mission, to build the Kingdom of God. Of course, the problem is that life will never be without conflict and we will never be free of disagreements. Even in the book of Acts we see several disagreements. So the question is how do we keep disagreements from turning into disunity? We have to disagree well.
This seems a lost art in todays politically charged climate. We do NOT disagree well or even really discuss issues well. More often than not I see immediate angry responses to things that don’t even properly reflect the others belief. The media hypes up and distorts the beliefs of the opposing side so that when we interact with people who have those beliefs we don’t understand what they really believe, but we think we do.
The church should not be a reflection of the world. We have to do better. We have to learn how to have propper discourse, to understand each others perspectives and be okay with disagreement from time to time. There are areas where it is okay to haver differing opinions.
Today, I have a couple of tips to help navigate these conversations.
First, take an interest in what they have to say and really listen. I’m not talking about the kind of listening that involves nodding politely while caluculating your next argument. I’m talking about genuinly listening with the intent to learn and understand their point of view. Start with a question like, “Why do you believe what you believe?” Then be quiet and listen, ask follow up questions until you can really understand what they believe and why.
This accomplishes two things. One, likely you will come to see that their perspective is legitimate, even though you may not come to agree. Two, as you patiently listen to them they will almost always take the time to listen to you in return.
Next we need to evaluate the disagreement. Is what they believe against scripture or harmful in some way? If it is not then perhaps the best thing to do is to let it go. If it is, then we need to let them know, in love. Yes, this is where we should attempt loving correction. They may still be unwilling to change their perspective, in which case you may need to take it to a higher authority to determine what should be done. It may still be wise to let it go, but that wildly depends on how harmful or unscriptural we’re talking here.
I do know this: Every person is worthy of kindness. Even if you don’t know them personally, hello social media, they are still valuable and worthy to be listened to. Now if you’re trying to engage in civil discourse and they simply refuse, you’ve done your part and can move on from the conversation knowing you tried.
Disagreement does not have to disrupt unity. We need to make allowances for each others faults, even perceived faults and trust that others will do the same for us. We need to see a unified body of Christ more than we need to win arguments. Let’s put each other above our pride. Let’s put the Kingdom above our own interests. Let’s learn to disagree well.
Romans 12:18 (NLT) If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.