We often give into sinful desires when we disagree with others. By participating in binary political or ideological systems, we have learned how to buttress one secular ideology while demolishing other ideologies and often those who live in it. When we encounter disagreement online (or in real life), we have knee-jerk reactions that we have learned from worldly culture and not from Christ.
Here is why it matters: when we discover someone or something we disagree with, we instantly engage our righteous minds either to affirm or to attack. But we affirm or attack first, and think later. We demonize difference and lionize conviction despite that conviction being based on nothing substantial.
I am guilty of this. I am so quick to react and to judge that I can bypass the apostolic imperative to be “transformed by the renewal of [my] mind” (Rom 12:2). To avoid worldly conformity, we (and I) need to recognize how God has created us to be righteous and then consider how we corrupt God’s good gift to us so that we can pursue “what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom 14:19).
Our Righteous Minds
Because God created us in his image, we all are wired to seek righteousness. But through sin, corruption and death entered the world. This corruption has deteriorated the image of God in us, and so we fail miserably at attaining righteousness. Yet salvation means that God renovates the image of himself in us (Col 3:10; Eph 4:24). For this reason, we can seek righteousness rightly.
But We Fail Often
Canadian Christians look to our friends in the South with surprise at the vehemence with which many American Christians love guns. We subtly look down on these brothers and sisters for their violent nature. We look at American politics and wonder why Americans vote for candidates and issues like they do. We feel superior.
American Christians look at us and see universal healthcare as a symptom laziness and socialism. They see our views on guns as peculiar, and so on. They might feel superior.
Both of us, however, have good reasons to believe what we do, based on a long history. Besides this, we have such a weighty centre (the Gospel of God) that these important political and societal issues should never push us off balance. And yet they often do. How can this be? How can Christians whose identify centres on Christ be so divided over issues of politics and social reform?
We judge each other based on patterns of the world that may have greater or fewer shades of wisdom but should not divide us for:
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. (Rom 14:5)
each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Rom 14:12)
Satan’s kingdom of darkness thrives on division concerning matters over which we ought never to divide. God’s kingdom is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). It makes space for one person esteeming social care while another person not esteeming it. It leaves judgment on preferential matters to God because it is to him that we will “give an account.”
Treat Each Other as Brothers and Sisters in Christ First
Christians will disagree over many preferential matters. Some will forbid alcohol. Some will not. Some will advise head coverings. Others will be aghast at the notion. Some will value essential oils. Others will not. Some will believe in natural products. Others will roll their eyes at the idea.
But it is okay. We are not enemies. We bear all things. We allow for differences, letting each person esteem one essential oil over another without dispute. Love bears all things. It covers a multitude of ideological differences!
So the next time you encounter someone with whom you disagree, do so while not conforming to the world’s acidic tone. Do so by reforming your mind according to God’s word, loving those weaker (or stronger) than you.