At school, we would often hold debates in class, where some people would be assigned to argue “for” the topic, and others “against”. After each side had voiced their opinions, we were asked to switch sides and argue from the opposite point of view.
I remember finding this quite difficult, as sometimes it meant I was holding forth about something I didn’t really agree with, but thinking back on it now, I think it does teach something valuable. When you have to look at both sides of an argument, it gives you a bit of balance and helps you understand where the other person is coming from, even if you still don’t agree with them.
It’s something I’m still learning now: how to disagree well. It’s a work in progress for me.
As a church, we’re a complete mixture of people; we have different backgrounds, were brought up in different cultures and different countries and we range from young to old. That’s how it should be – that’s the beauty of the church. We’re all brought together by our love for Jesus and our heart to build His kingdom. But, even though we are one in heart, inevitably, on an individual level, we do think differently about a lot of things. From the small things (we don’t all like exactly the same kind of food) to the bigger differences in opinion. I think that’s okay.
But it does present a challenge. How can we learn to hold our opinions lightly? I know, personally, how easy it is to get carried away when something is close to your heart. You can’t understand why everyone else doesn’t feel the same as you. Let’s face it, most of the time, we all think we’re right and the other person is wrong. Something that my Mum always told me (typical Mum saying) was that “it’s better to love someone than be right”.
That may sound a bit “fridge magnety”, but I think it’s really important. I always remind myself of it. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus answered like this:
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
Strangely, Jesus didn’t say “Guys, make sure that if you’re right about something, you keep arguing until you force the other person to agree with you, and if they won’t, never speak to them again.” Jesus calls us, firstly, to love Him and to love each other – it’s as simple as that.
My heart is that we are a church that loves God and love each other first, above all else, and that we can communicate, talk, discuss, about what we feel, without causing hurt or division. Let’s be humble enough to listen to each other without shouting the other one down. We are going to disagree about some things, but we can do that and still show love, still build the church together.