Disagreement can be misinterpreted by Christians as an unloving act specially between believers. Some disputes can really paint an ugly picture on a Christian.
However, there are some that are really needed to be address and can be a concern for the church. As we might sway to avoid confrontations, here are some truths about disagreement that we might want to consider and change our mind about it.
Disagreement doesn’t mean we hate each other.
If an argument is done with utmost civility with the end goal is to unite in truth, it is not about hating someone. The only time disagreement becomes dirty is when people are attacking each other rather than focusing on the issue. Mudslinging of course will not advance a dispute, it will only side track it.
When our focus is on the ad hominems we are not creating a place for understanding but a circus. Sadly, some Christians get tangled in this web and think it’s the right way to argue. Well that is not the right way to resolve an issue. Christians are better than this. We should lay aside those personal attacks and get to the issue. Disagreement should not come with torches and clubs aimed to fellow Christians. Dispute is all about the topic at hand and not the person.
However in case we got caught up with the heat of the disagreement, James 1: 19-20 reminds us:
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Disagreement doesn’t mean we are divisive.
Whether its doctrinal or moral standards there will be division because truth is by nature divisive. There is always a decision to make and a view to side on. It’s the light of truth that divides us to make us see the error. Disagreement in itself is not divisive. Arguments are intended to clear things up on both parties. Although in some very sensitive or heavy issue things might end up in an emotional parting of ways, if ever let us put a period in the issue but not on the fellowship of the believers.
Disagreement doesn’t mean we lack humility.
The fact is, Christians should be humble even in face on an inevitable disagreement. Humbleness is a game changer in every area of the Christian life. We are exhorted in Philippians 2: 3-4 to:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
In actuality, we can argue and still show humility. We can show respect for each other more in times of disagreement. What we must avoid as a believer is to sacrifice a well meaning argument on the altar of humility. We shouldn’t shun the opportunity to clear a topic for the sake of one’s humility. Don’t use humility as a trump card for the issue. Humility is not the primary topic. The issue at hand is and needs to be resolved. If in our heart we find the lack of humility, better address it first then go back to the issue.
Disagreement doesn’t mean we are debate mongers.
First of all, we shouldn’t be wolves prowling around, with our mouth frothing and looking for someone one to disagree with. We are better than that. Disagreement is not a regular occasion or should it consume our time. We should remember that there are lots of things a Christian should focus on.
However, to say that we are debate mongers just because we disagree on a issue is just unfair. When dispute arises, we need to take action not just we care for the truth but the people involved. We need to address an issue and resolve it which will benefit every believer.
Now that we cleared what disagreement is not, we now go to ways how to engage in that is not just healthy but fruitful. After all we didn’t invest in a certain discussion without benefiting our Christian life.
We cannot overstate the power of prayers among believers. It will assist us in the course of disagreement. Praying first is putting emphasis to God as the most important person in this dispute. If our primary purpose is truth, praying will help us navigate to the goal we want to attain. Pray not just for the opposing view but for us that we would listen and seek to understand each other.
Consult the Bible.
The Word of God should be first not just for the answers to the issue raised by the disagreement but how to conduct the conversation. Starting with the Bible will put both Christians having different views in the same page and wont resolve to look at their won’t wisdom. Let the Scriptures be the judge on this matter. Draw wisdom from it and be the guiding lamp it is.
We as Christians should “agree to disagree”. Showing civility presents a far beautiful picture of us than an issue at stake. It does make a difference in responding in a gentle manner than being angry. Keep also in mind that we should answer the issue not the person. We get nowhere when we entertain logical fallicies especially ad hominem. We need to listen and understand to opposite view. After all, we are brothers and sisters in Christ and that should be more important than burning bridges because of something we don’t agree on.
Seek a win-win closure.
If the issue can be resolved without parting ways, we should seek a win-win closure. Let both parties agree on what the Bible had said to the matter. Repent to God on what error we try to hold onto. If we offended in anyway each other, seek forgiveness. Be ready to forgive if someone hurt you while disagreeing.
In the spirit of disagreement among believers, may we always put God in the center. He is sovereign for allowing certain circumstances to happen and He is also there whatever the outcome will be.