Godly Disagreement

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

Years ago, my teenage son fell asleep at the wheel and sideswiped our neighbor’s parked car. Not huge damage, but an inconvenience to be sure. Since it was the middle of the night, he left a note. I saw my neighbors outside the next morning and walked over to apologize and assure them my son would come over after work to get the insurance details straight. Another neighbor was there, actually far angrier than the neighbor with the damaged car. Incensed at my son’s blunder, he blamed my lack of parenting skills for the incident. “When my boys are teenagers,” he stormed, “I will never allow them to be so careless and cause this kind of trouble.”

Good luck with that one. Obviously, he had not yet experienced the challenge of raising teenagers. Everyone is an expert on parenting… until they actually become parents. It is so easy to judge when you have never walked in someone else’s shoes.

Passing judgment without regard to your limited understanding of someone’s situation has become pretty common these days. On social media, a culture has developed in which judgment on others has become the norm—even within the Church. It’s so easy to leave a snide or angry comment, then move on. But words like that are not from the Lord.

Jesus called us to unity. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:5 NASB). When debate over issues accelerates into mud-slinging, we can inflict serious damage, on more than the other person. God intends to reveal himself to the world through the way his Church interacts. When we judge and condemn our brothers and sisters in Christ, our effectiveness as God-reflectors is seriously compromised.

It’s one thing to disagree with a doctrinal position. It’s another to assassinate character.

Is there a godly way to disagree within the body of Christ? Yes. But it involves a purposeful mindset.

1. Keep in mind how much you have in common with the one with whom you disagree. You were equally guilty and saved by the unmerited favor of God (Romans 2:4). You are both adopted children of the King with the Holy Spirit residing in you as a guarantee of your shared inheritance.

2. The Holy Spirit is at work in both of you to perfect what was started on the day of your salvation. Neither one has reached that perfection yet! (Philippians 1:6) But we can trust that the He will continue His work in us. Paul recognized this when he wrote the Philippians: “…If in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you” (Philippians 3:15 NASB). It is not up to us to convict people–state your position but then trust the Holy Spirit to lead them to His truth.

3. Just as you hope they will do for you, choose to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Jesus told His disciples, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you…” (Matthew 7:12 NASB). You don’t want to be written off because of incorrectly assumed bad intentions or motivation. So extend that courtesy to them first.

Understand, like my angry neighbor, you have not walked in their shoes. We all carry baggage from the events in our lives. This person’s position or actions may well have been influenced by trauma or negative experiences you have never experienced. As Hillel, a rabbi who lived several decades before Jesus, wisely said, “Judge not your fellow man until you yourself come into his place.”

4. Stick to the issue at hand and resist the mud-slinging. We are on the same team! Our spiritual gifts were given to build up others in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7).When we go for the jugular, we don’t build up, but tear down. It is easy in the heat of the moment to forget the all-important goal of contributing to our brother’s growth.

5. Recognize the possibility you are (gasp!) in error. I’m embarrassed to admit just how many issues I have hotly debated over the years for which I now hold a different conviction. Humility is never a bad thing.

It’s OK to disagree. Iron sharpens iron. But make it a clean “fight”. When we purpose to interact in a godly way, we reflect an important characteristic of our heavenly Father: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36 NASB). And leave it to the Lord to do the judging.

“Therefore, do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts.” 1 Corinthians 4:5 NASB

TWEETABLE
Godly Disagreement – insight and encouragement from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What have you learned about handling disagreement in a godly way?

The Secret to Unity

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

I am blessed with a happy marriage. Don’t get me wrong-we have our ups and downs. Steve and I enjoy a close relationship, developed over years of great times and laughter, but those years have also been sprinkled with hard times we wish we could forget. We are two very different people: personality tests reveal we are exact opposites in personality type.

Unity in spite of diversity can be challenging. It’s easy to bond with someone who always agrees with us. But it is a supernatural accomplishment to bond with those with whom we have nothing in common–and especially those with whom we vehemently disagree. Jesus told his disciples, “Love your enemies… For if you love [only] those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:36 NASB)

My church is an interesting collection of people. From Charismatic to Presbyterian to Baptist to Catholic, our spiritual backgrounds run the gamut. How can such a diverse group of individuals achieve unity and function as one body?

The world would tell us that the answer is “embracing diversity.” Rather than bemoan the theological and stylistic differences that exist between us, they suggest we celebrate them. Sounds good on the surface, but there is one problem with this idea. The focus is all wrong. When we direct our attention away from the Head of this body onto the individuals in fellowship, we are actually moving away from oneness. Moving our focus from God and onto each other is a recipe for unity disaster.

So what is the answer? How do we achieve unity in a relationship with diverse individuals: in a church, marriage, or any other setting?

A.W. Tozer observed that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same tuning fork are automatically in tune with each other. They are of one accord by being tuned to another standard outside of themselves.

In the same way, as each of us sets our mind on Christ, we will be drawn together in heart.

Paul spent a lot of time in his letter to the Romans explaining the appropriate use of spiritual gifts. He begins Romans 12 encouraging a very personal commitment to God, urging us to offer ourselves as individual living sacrifices. Why the stress on individual commitment to God in a chapter dedicated to the church operating as a unified body? When each member devotes themselves to the same cause, unity is inevitable.

This year marks forty years since Steve and I wed. People ask Steve and I if we have a secret to having remained happy all this time (or at least most of it!!). Our secret to obtaining oneness in marriage is absolutely dependent on our personal relationships with God. As we have both individually kept our focus on Christ, over the years that sameness in purpose has inexorably drawn us together.

We can only hope for unity despite differences when we set aside our own agendas and jointly focus our gaze on our Savior. Supernatural unity is a by-product of individuals determined to walk with Him.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you   will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2 NASB

TWEETABLE
The Secret to Unity – insight from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: What relationships do you have in your life where you love despite diversity?

Where Honking Is a Virtue

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

We were amazed at the driving skills of the Indonesians. Larry and I had flown into Jakarta to speak at a Christian conference. As our missionary friends drove us away from the airport, Larry’s and my eyes met as we simultaneously thought: “Are we back in Caracas, Venezuela?”

In both places, honking is a virtue. Unlike the United States, where a honk is usually accompanied with a rude gesture and a scowl, in Jakarta (and other places of the world, I’m sure), drivers honk to let others know, “I’m next to you, let’s cooperate.”

Yes! Cooperate! In Indonesia, there are more motor bikes than cars, and when you get two cars and three motorbikes whizzing around in the space of two lanes, everybody had better cooperate! It was like watching a finely choreographed dance. In the two weeks we drove extensively in Indonesia, we never saw a single automobile accident—although I’m told they occur. But because most people let others know with a honk that they are coming close, people seem to automatically juxtaposition themselves to allow everyone to go on their way safely.

As I wondered how this system was even possible, I realized that no one there had a sense of “space.” In America, I get angry if someone cuts me off by coming into “my” lane without warning. That’s my “space” and I’m entitled to be offended. How dare you come close to me! I’m here!

But in Indonesia, there’s no sense of “my space” or driving “rights.” No one is offended if you crowd in—and believe me, we saw crowding. I never knew two cars could drive along only inches apart and not hit. But it was because they were both cooperating.

I didn’t really want to listen to the Holy Spirit’s application for me as I thought about this, but I couldn’t ignore it. I recognized how easily I can feel offended, especially in the relationships closest to me. Can I be honest? Especially in my marriage!

If Larry doesn’t do what I want him to do, if Larry doesn’t consider my opinion always more important than his own, if Larry forgets to open the door for me, I get offended! He has somehow violated my personal space, my “rights.” I begin to see him as the enemy, instead of us being on the same team.

I also recognized that the drivers in Indonesia don’t take the other person’s behavior personally. They believe the honk is for their own benefit—so that as they come alongside, there will be enough space for both of them. Why can’t I remember that in my relationships? Most of the time, whatever the offending person has done usually is not even done on purpose, but by mistake. (And ironically, when I do the same thing to other people, I wonder why their nose is bent out of shape!)

By receiving an action as a personal offense, I allow it to become a statement about my own worth and value, when most likely it wasn’t meant to be that at all.

Paul exhorts us, “Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people’s trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition” (Philippians 1:27 MSG). When I remember the real enemy is Satan, whose intention is to divide and conquer, I remember to fight the real “opposition” and stand firmly united with those I love.

I’m working on my spirit of offense. Will you join me?

I…implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 NASB

TWEETABLE
Where honking is a virtue – thoughts on cooperation with the Holy Spirit from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to travel and has been in more than 25 countries and has spoken in 8 of them. Her passion is to help others (and herself) live more for God’s glory than anyone or anything else.

Kathy is the author of more than 50 books, Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God's Glory by [Miller, Kathy Collard]including Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory Do you want a purer passion for serving God? Pure-Hearted will inspire you to focus on and desire  God’s glory and enjoy the benefits without guilt: benefits like selflessness, security, satisfaction, surrender, stability, and self-control.