Thursday, December 04, 2014

My Family is Full of Selfish, Hell-bent Jerks - and Other Bad Starting Points

If you don't have issues, you better check your pulse because you probably don't have one of those either. That's true in families and it's true in churches - local churches and groups of churches.

When disagreements occur, it is very good - let's call it loving - to assume good about our brothers and sisters in Christ instead of evil. I see Christians to the left of me and to the right saying things and making arguments that don't reflect the truth about where the other parties actually are. I have found that my brothers and sisters are wonderful people; not selfish people. Here are some gracious things to assume about your church family members with whom you disagree whether they are more liberal or conservative than you:

1. They are pursuing being right in the practice of their faith. They are not bent on following their own will even if it is against God's.
2. They've read the text. It is not helpful to tell someone to read __________ passage. We have MANY intelligent, well-studied people in our family and all of us have read the texts and still often disagree about what it means in light of all the texts that pertain to a particular topic.
3. They love God, they trust Jesus, they desire the unity of the Spirit, and they love God's Church.

Have the conversation. Paul said that he is confident that in the face of disagreements, we can teach each other while accepting each other and refusing to judge (Romans 15:14). When we converse though, we'll accomplish much more if we assume good-will in our family and start the conversation where people actually are.  - Richard May