The last couple of days I’ve written about treating each other with respect. First in general, and then what our response as Christ followers should be when the world doesn’t always treat us with respect (Jesus warned from the beginning that the world would hate us because of Him). You can read those two posts here and here if you’d like.
Today I’m going to wrap up this three part post about treating one another with respect, and it’s a topic that I feel shouldn’t need to be discussed, but is one that probably needs more attention than the others. We are going to be looking at how Christ followers should treat other Christ followers. You would think because we have Jesus in common, then we would be able to at least be civil with each other. But that is just not the case anymore. Sure we can disagree over minor issues, but that doesn’t mean that we have to resort to yelling, name calling, and just down right belligerent behavior. Yet, more and more that is what I see happening between people that share a faith in Jesus Christ in common.
You would think because we have Jesus in common, then we would be able to at least be civil with each other.
I’ve seen it multiple places and involving multiple topics of discussion. And we fall right into the trap that the rest of the culture does. We think by yelling and name calling, we make our point come across in a more effective way. But in reality, all it does is make us look juvenile, and in the process give Christ a bad name. Let me deal with that first.
If we can agree on one thing, it should be that we have a mission of sharing Jesus with others. Seriously, if we have this relationship with Jesus, and we see someone who doesn’t, why would we not want to share that with them. Jesus is the best thing that has happened to us, and we should not want to keep that from other people. But when we disagree with other Christians in a belligerent and juvenile way, others see that. When they see that we aren’t acting any better (and sometimes absolutely worse) than the rest of society, they are going to ask one question; Why would I want to follow this Jesus when His followers don’t even treat other with love and respect?
When they (Non-Christians) see that we aren’t acting any better (and sometimes absolutely worse) than the rest of society, they are going to ask one question; Why would I want to follow this Jesus when His followers don’t even treat other with love and respect?
And they have a point. We damage our ability to share Jesus with others when we can’t even treat our fellow Christ followers with respect. In fact, I think it is fair to say that most people that have had a bad experience with Christianity or God would say that it was really an issue of how they were treated by other people, and not God.
Social media has just made this phenomenon even worse, because it is so easy to type words and not consider how they will affect the situation. We can attack without much fear of how it will impact us in the long run. But others are watching us. Politics has been one area where Christians on both sides of the aisle, so to speak, have just gone off the rails. They can’t understand how anyone could support something opposite from what they support, and instead of agreeing to disagree, they attempt to tear the other side down through attack after attack. I’ve seen it, like I said, from both sides. I’ve seen it from friends and family, and complete strangers. And it breaks my heart.
That is one reason that I try to stay as far away from political posts on social media as I can. I know what I believe and support, and I vote that way. But our relationship with Jesus and trying to follow Him should take precedent over any political party or position we could hold. Neither political party in this country completely lines up with Biblical principles. I’ve heard it from both sides; You can’t be a Christ follower and support the _________ party.
It’s not just politics. I’m in groups on Facebook for members of and ministers of the Independent Christian Church/Churches of Christ. These groups are set up for similar leaning people in their theology and doctrine. Yet I learned very quick after joining these groups to not post or comment without being ready to be flat out attacked because someone is going to disagree with your stance on something. And I mean attacked hard. I’ve been told that my opinion on something was completely and just flat out wrong. I’ve seen people just so beaten down that they end up leaving the groups. And there has been so many discussions that have gotten so nasty with personal attacks that the admins of the groups finally had to take the original post down and actually ban people from the groups.
Friends, this should simply never be the case when we are talking about Christ followers interacting with other Christ followers.
The only thing that I am thankful for in regards to these Facebook groups is that they are not open to where just anyone can read the junk that sometimes happens, because that would hurt any effort of sharing Jesus with others.
So what should we do? First, we need to remember the words of Paul that we looked at yesterday. When possible, as long as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Does that mean we have to agree with everything someone says or does, even fellow believers? No. That is just never going to happen. But we have to be able to still treat each other with love and respect.
When possible, as long as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Most of these disagreements I see between Christians that get this nasty are actually things that would fall under the category of opinion. In other words there is really no Biblical proof, one way or the other, as to exactly what should be our stance. But one person thinks one thing, and another disagrees. Instead of realizing that both parties have a right to their opinion, and deciding to discuss and listen to each other, the yelling and screaming begin.
Here’s the thing. If what we are disagreeing over as Christians can be considered opinion or that we have freedom in those things, then we have to get to the point that we just agree to disagree. In other words, if it is not a clear salvation issue, or something that is clearly declared sin in Scripture, why are we wasting our time arguing over it.
That leads me to my final thoughts on this topic though. What if what the disagreement is over is a potential salvation issue, or and issue of sin? In other words, one person thinks something is completely fine and not an issue, but another person thinks that it is a sin or that you have to do something to reach salvation. I believe that Jesus addressed this. Jesus states in Matthew 18:15-17;
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
You address the issue with them. If they don’t change, you take a couple of other mature believers with you as witnesses. If it continues, then you bring it to the church and finally you cut off contact if they still refuse to change. But no where in these instructions does it say to resort to anger, yelling, or name calling.
You are to do all of this in a loving way, because you truly care about that person.
Even if it is not a sin or salvation issue, sometimes the most loving and respectful thing we could do with someone that we disagree with is just to stay away from them. I have found that to be the most useful thing for me. And it takes a lot of stress and potential anger off of my shoulders. There are others that I completely disagree with one certain topics, some that I would consider a sin issue. They know where I stand, I know where they stand. And instead of locking horns in a never ending debate, I have chosen to walk away. That doesn’t mean that I ignore them completely. If I see them, I try to be cordial and say hello. But we aren’t close friends.
Major in the majors, minor in the minors, but in all things treat one another with love and respect. Disagree with someone to the point you don’t think you can be kind to them? Sometimes the best thing to do is walk away. Let’s make this world a better place by treating one another with respect. Join me, won’t you?