What Does the Bible Say About Disagreeing?
Do you have a difficult time disagreeing with others, or are you open to responding to someone who you believe may have an incorrect or dangerous perspective?
What prevents us from disagreeing with others, even when we are deeply convicted of an alternative perspective?
Example: Vaccinations, abortion, pre-marital sex.
Have you ever had a positive experience disagreeing with someone? What was it about? Why would you consider it to be a positive experience?
Is there a Christian way to disagree? If so, what do you think that might be?
Who Is the Greatest?
33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but he who sent me”
12 Followers with Different Beliefs
Wealthy, roman sympathizing tax-collector
Passionate, Israelite political rebels and zealots
Poor, unchosen and uneducated fisherman
Read Romans 14:1-21
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 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. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
What do you think Paul is saying here? How does all of this talk about ‘food’ and ‘drink’ apply to us today?
The Strong & The Weak
Differences of opinion on whether or not to participate in strictly Jewish holidays is not an issue for some believers – it is just a holiday, they were never Jewish, so it’s just some free food and celebration.
While to others, these Jewish celebrations bring them back to their former way of life.
Partaking or refraining can both be done for the glory of God.
Paul says that both the weak and the strong can please the Lord even while holding different views on disputable matters. They have different positions but the same motivation: to honor God.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to be in a church where everyone gave each other the benefit of the doubt on these differences, instead of putting the worst possible spin on everything?
Judgment is Not Our Job
At times we think that it is our sole responsibility to judge, direct, and command the lives of Christians.
The reality is, that God is the one and only, ultimate judge.
This does not mean that we do not teach, direct, and encourage our brothers and sisters in the faith who may be lost, wandering, or stuck in sin.
But what it does mean is that we cannot judge Christians based on their conscience.
For some, having a beer with friends is permissible and not sin.
For others, consuming any alcohol can be deemed as sinful for them – recovering alcoholic, a desire not to let their friends stumble.
Do Not Let Your Freedom, Conscience, Personal Convictions Destroy the Faith of Others
When our choices tempt or cause another to stumble, to sin, to be stuck in their brokenness we must not partake.
Example: Hanging out with a friend who has a tendency or addiction to drinking at a pub. Spending time with a friend who is actively trying to eat healthy and care for their body, and asking to meet at McDonald’s.
We Must Follow Christ’s Example
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Acceptance must be our focus.
This does not mean that we must agree with everyone all of the time, but that we must accept them no matter what our disagreement.
We are commanded to welcome those as Christ welcomed us – I don’t think Jesus agrees with everything we say, think, and do. And yet, He unconditionally welcomed us and offered us forgiveness, eternal life, and a new way to live in this world.
When we welcome those who we disagree with, as Christ welcomed us, we glorify God.
But What if They’re Wrong?
And what if I’m wrong?
In non-salvific matters, or matters that are not leading someone into personal destruction (i.e. addiction, harming of self or others), we are not commanded as Christians to change their mind.
It is not your job as a Christian to convince others to wear masks, just as it is not your role as a Christian to overthrow the government mask mandate.
Some may feel specially convicted in their conscience that this is their call. They may feel that this is the Christian response. We must not take on a prideful position that says it is our job to change their mind either way.
Living into the spaces of disagreement in love, with a focus on acceptance and understanding (even while disagreeing) is central to the Christian life.
This is what the church needs to model for the world around us – that we can disagree, and still love Jesus.
That we can have differences of theological opinion, but still be in a small group together, still worship together, and still be in community together.
This is what the disciples modelled for us – the first followers of Jesus!
Church vs. State
Read Matthew 22:15-22
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
Over the past two years we have seen a lot of churches and worshipping spaces fighting against the mandates in-place from the government.
Some claim that the government has no role or influence over the institution of the Church, only God does.
With all we’ve discussed so far, what do you think a Christian response to this is today? Should churches keep their doors open and masks off as a worshipful practice and faithfulness to God even when the government demands they close?
Diversity Strengthens Unity
A diverse community of believers in one community represents a wide variety of opinions, thoughts, and beliefs.
The variety of perspectives is a representation of the beauty of the God’s creation and His people.
We have allowed this beautiful diversity to lead toward brokenness, denominations, infighting, and at times even hatred.
Feeling like there must be one right interpretation of a text, of Jesus, of what the church must be – has created anything but unity in the worldwide church.
Yet, when we acknowledge and accept as Jesus has, the diversity of conviction, belief, and conscience, even in the church – we create a community of diversity that represents the whole of God’s creation.
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
All parts, all perspectives, all gifts, and even beliefs within the church are needed to create a holistic body of Christ.
Diversity in unity, unity in diversity.
Anti-abortion, anti-vaccine, pro-life, pro-mandate – all of these things are not to be done away with, but instead, accepted as conscience and conviction, and the person treated with love and welcome. This is our call as a church.
Not to convince, prove, or judge those whose opinions and beliefs are different than our own.
Jesus, we know that we are not right about everything. We know that no matter how hard we try, no matter how deeply we study, no matter how convicted we may be, that we do not have the right answer to every question. As we disagree with others, give us humility, help us to see them as you seem them, help us to be people of peace. As we focus instead on unity and welcome, instead of rightness. As we focus on love instead of judgement. Keep us with our eyes to the cross, to your will, instead of our own. In Jesus name, amen.