Thank you for having grace with me last week. My new job allowed us to use their cabin for the weekend. We took full advantage of that blessing! Since I began this blog, I have not taken one week off from writing. The transition to me working full-time while pastoring, mom-ing, wife-ing, and blogging has not been spectacularly smooth! I needed a brain break.
We are going to start a series today called Family Values. Have you ever seen a list of family values posted in someone’s home? We have one that hangs in our hallway. It’s like a visual call of accountability to all who enter our home. When you’re in my house, you should expect to be treated this way and we also expect you to show us the same level of respect. That is the picture I hope to paint for you through this set of posts. Each week we are going to discuss a value that God expects His family to display.
Today, our value is: We Can Disagree.
I doubt there’s anyone in the world who isn’t up to date (at least partially) with what is going on in America right now so, I won’t dive in too deep. Just in case you’re reading this years later, we’ve just had the 2020 presidential election between President Trump and former Vice President, Joe Biden. The two political parties have been extremely aggressive toward one another which, unfortunately, is relatively normal and expected during an election year.
Here’s where we, the Church need to be careful and ask God to check our fruit:
- Did our behavior during and after the election make people want to know Jesus? Or, were we just as aggressive, divisive, and hateful as those who don’t know the Lord?
- Were we motivated by fear and manipulation? Or, did we operate from peace and trust?
I’m worried that our society has forgotten that it’s actually okay for us to have differing opinions. Yes, even in the Church. As long as those opinions don’t contradict God’s Word, we CAN disagree and stay friends.
There are several things that my hubby and I disagree on: preferred temperature inside the house, preferred temperature outside of the house, preferred temperature in the car (we obviously have temperature issues!), restaurants we want to try, states we prefer to visit on vacation, staying in a tent versus a hotel, etc. There are even some scriptures that we interpret differently and we have voted for different people.
We have passionate discussions in our house about why we think the way we do. We’re both stubborn hotheads, so we have to be careful not to make our opinions more important than how we treat the other person. We’ve kind of grown up together since we married so young. Now we’re able to celebrate the fact that we think a little differently. Our differences have actually made us more mature individuals and have softened some of our rough edges. He has bent more towards my thinking in some areas, and I towards his. What a blessing!
“It takes a grinding wheel to sharpen a blade,
and so one person sharpens the character of another, (Proverbs 27:17 TPT).
The imagery in this verse of having someone else grind things out of your life is not romantic. It’s intentional training for battle. When I look at the picture below, I can hear the sounds and feel the pressing. It’s not a pleasant process, but it prepares us to stand against our enemy. God uses the people in our lives to sharpen us. We have to be brave enough to submit to their sharpening.
When it feels like my face is on a grinder, I’m not thinking about submission. I’m in full, self-preservation mode. In fact, my flesh wants to run, scream and make a scene so I can slip away. I often even try to turn the focus onto the person who is correcting me, so that their flaws are exposed. Yikes. I told you I can be a stubborn hothead! However, I’m not sure that there are many other things that will produce greater fruit than simply saying “ok” to correction. When we take those things before the Lord, He is able to really change us, mature us, and sharpen us.
We also have to be brave enough to provide sharpening to others. This needs to be done with intense care and humility in the context of loving, healthy relationships. Just in case it’s not clear, this verse doesn’t give us license to just walk around rebuking everyone who disagrees with us. It speaks of relational investment and mutual benefit. Both people are blessed by the time they spend together and both are sharpened.
I also feel like it’s important to clarify that we are sharpened for battle against the enemy, not people. People are NOT our enemy. If the enemy has been successful in accomplishing anything in 2020, it’s turning us against each other. We have to remember that God made every single person on this planet. He designed them with great care and destiny. His heart is widely, passionately pursuing every person at every moment. And it’s important for us to remember that He uses us to express His love to them. It’s pretty hard to fight about our differences of opinion and bless those we disagree with at the same time. WE HAVE TO GET THIS RIGHT. I’m deeply concerned that we haven’t.
I had a conversation with a new friend this week. We couldn’t be further apart in our personal beliefs and convictions.
She is liberal. I am conservative.
She is a vegan. I plan my meals around meat.
She is a Buddhist. I am a Christian.
And yet. We truly enjoy and appreciate each other.
She poured her heart out to me about those who were disappointed in the election results. She heard of some young people who were threatening suicide because the election didn’t go their way. When she could be gloating because her side was winning, she instead was heartbroken for those on the opposing side.
I just love her.
My new friend has been so kind and patient with me. She has had a front row seat to several moments of frustration and embarrassment for me recently. She goes out of her way to speak the most intentional and beautiful things over me. Our relationship isn’t based on the things that we disagree about. She is able to see past our differences and values me as an individual. And guys, she is not a believer. If she has had the maturity to create a safe space for me, how much more does God expect that from His children? We can disagree.
I recently read Dancing in No Man’s Land: Moving with Peace and Truth in a Hostile World. I highly, highly recommend it. The basic idea is what we have gotten too comfortable in our opposing bunkers. We sit down, weapons drawn, ready to take out the opposing side. We do this just as much in the Church as outside of it. Here are a few examples: Is it better for a church to reach the younger generation or older? Why not both? Is it better to sing hymns or only modern music? Why not both? Instead of digging in deep to one side, the author paints a beautiful picture of dancing right in the middle of the war zone instead.
The family of God is called to a higher standard. We should absolutely take a stand for our personal beliefs and convictions. We should campaign and use our voices for what we believe in. We should debate and care passionately about our country. But, we MUST do so in a way that honors the character of God. Here is what He has to say about it:
“Let the inner movement of your heart always be to love one another, and never play the role of an actor wearing a mask. Despise evil and embrace everything that is good and virtuous.
Be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another.
Be enthusiastic to serve the Lord, keeping your passion toward him boiling hot! Radiate with the glow of the Holy Spirit and let him fill you with excitement as you serve him.
Let this hope burst forth within you, releasing a continual joy. Don’t give up in a time of trouble, but commune with God at all times.
Take a constant interest in the needs of God’s beloved people and respond by helping them. And eagerly welcome people as guests into your home.
Speak blessing, not cursing, over those who reject and persecute you.
Celebrate with those who celebrate, and weep with those who grieve. Live happily together in a spirit of harmony, and be as mindful of another’s worth as you are your own. Don’t live with a lofty mind-set, thinking you are too important to serve others, but be willing to do menial tasks and identify with those who are humble minded. Don’t be smug or even think for a moment that you know it all.
Never hold a grudge or try to get even, but plan your life around the noblest way to benefit others. Do your best to live as everybody’s friend,” (Romans 12:9-18 TPT).
Jesus chose to bend down low and wash the disciples’ feet, knowing that one of them was about to betray him. Imagine stooping at Judas’ feet, picturing all that you were about to endure because of him and cleaning him up anyway. Judas disagreed with God, but God served him and showed him dignity anyway (John 13).
Jesus knew who He was, Whose He was, what He had, and where He was going. His position of authority was secure and He was able to treat others like royalty because of it. Let’s show the world that kind of love.