The Christian community is itself divided in thought, attitude, and even interest level across a wide variety of hot topic arenas. So what matters? ◊
Jim’s company recently was recognized for its high “LGBTQ Inclusivity” rating by a regional newspaper. While a departmental vice president at the company, and a Christian, Jim has no issue supporting and enforcing the company’s equity and diversity policies. He was recently challenged however by another man in his mid-week Men’s Bible Study group about not taking a firmer stance against these diversity trends in the marketplace.
Susan has conducted extensive research on Covid and vaccination medical protocols, hospital and pharma financial incentives, and negative field results data that have not been widely distributed. As a Christian, she is frustrated with what she calls “widespread deceit” and is not shy about sharing her strong opinions and even anger over local, state, and national government health policies. She has recently argued with others in her church who call her a “conspiracy loon.”
Jeff & Carol and Eric & Cindy are fellow Christian couples on separate ends of the liberal and converative political spectrum. They find little if any common ground on political candidates, national fiscal and energy policies, home schooling, and even in areas of Biblical interpretation (Genesis as narrative, localized Flood, women in leadership, and end times eschatology, to name a few). Their friendly put pointed banter in their church home group sometimes makes the others in the group feel uncomfortable.
It’s clear that the Christian community is itself divided in thought, attitude, and even interest level across a wide variety of hot topic arenas.
So What Matters?
It seems that it all matters. And therein lies the rub. Each of us have our own heartfelt, casual, or ambivalent perspectives on these topics. It really is a function of our own experience, education, interest, and bias.
Even as Christ-following Christians.
Now there is certainly nothing wrong with one’s personal knowledge and opinion, it’s what we do with it and how we manage it. There will always be one side or another on any controversial topic, each with its own perspective on truth and reality. And while there is absolute truth in life, not all parties have full absolute information. And sometimes, some are actually right, and some are actually wrong. Yet truth is always in the eye of the beholder, particularly if they are truthful in acknowleding their possible lack of full information and natural bias.
So how are we to deal with this as Christians who are to love and get along with others in the world?
Keeping Christ-like Focus in a Broken World
We’re actually called to love God and love our fellow-man.
Jesus answered him, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39)
This does not mean agree or force agreement with every other person, Christian or otherwise, on all topics from politics to religion. It means to love and honor God as well as to love and honor our neighbor as we love and honor ourself.
Additionally, Jesus also directed His disciples to develop other Christians around the world:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:18-20)
That is, we are to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and develop other Christ-followers among all other nations.
But what if they don’t agree with us?
Don’t Judge or Argue
Outside of us proclaiming and teaching the gospel of Jesus, it’s God’s work to soften and win over the surrendered heart and soul, and minds.
In the meantime, we’re not necessarily called to always win people over to our side about LGBTQ inclusivity, Covid protocols, vaccination realities, mid-term election choices, global warming motives, education funding, or Biblical interpretation of Genesis, the historicity of the Flood, male and female roles in the Church, or updated eschatology, or any and all sorts of ripe and juicy issues for debate.
Not to say that we’re not to engage others on these important topics. These are valid issues worthy of exposure and discussion. But do so in love, humility, and gentleness, being sensitive and kind to perspectives that differ from our own. Even this past week, through friendly conversations and inputs, God is teaching me to be grounded in my connection to the Vine and the essential cause of Christ.1 Christ will stir, lead, and direct my inclinations.
Live and Let Live – Let God Be the Judge
In Romans chapters 13 and 14, the apostle Paul writes about Christian conduct in relation to the state and to our neighbor. He challenges us to acquiece to the state, who is actually appointed by God Himself, the caretaker of all details in life:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1)
In the context of living practices, Paul also calls us to be models of peace to our fellow Christian brothers and sisters, even those at lessor points of maturity:
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters…. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt?… Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (Romans 14:10,13)
Yes, even as we eat, drink, talk, and fellowship with others, we do so in peace and in love, with an eye to Christ, not just our side and opinions.
Do you judge others? Are you argumentative?
For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God. So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. – Romans 14:11-12
1. Days and Diets – Romans 14 (sermon), by Pastor Mark Clark, Bayside Church, Granite Bay, CA, October 23, 2022.
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