Every now and then, something comes up in one of my various social circles that makes me think about how we as Christians should behave.
Recently, in one of my groups, there has been some really intense discussion on several different topics, from writing to politics to theology and more.
And of course, any time there is more than one person discussing anything, there is the potential for conflict. Mostly, people are amazing. Occasionally, difference of opinion leads the discussion to more and more heated debate, and when people are really passionate about something, sometimes their words turn more to personal attacks than calm, rational defenses of their positions.
This post is not to call out bad behavior. Rather, it is an encouragement to all of us who call ourselves followers of Christ to bear that standard in mind when interacting with one another.
Politics, content in our writing, even theology is less important than treating one another with love and respect.
In Matthew 22, someone asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is, and Jesus responds, “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. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
I think one important thing to note is that Jesus was asked the single greatest commandment, and He responds with two. He also specifies, “the second is like it.” Loving others is like loving God.
Jesus also points out that everything else, all other commandments and prophetic words, hang on these two things. Loving God and loving each other.
In John 13, at the Lord’s Supper, Jesus gives the example of serving one another. He humbles Himself to serve His disciples, then tells them they are to do the same for each other. Then, a little while later, in verse 34, Jesus tells his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus is very clear here that it is our love for one another that shows we are His followers. People will not know we love Him because we have the right political view or because we have the best theology or because we write the cleanest, most gospel-oriented stories.
They will know we follow Him because of the way we treat one another.
This doesn’t mean we can’t have passionate debates. It doesn’t mean we can’t disagree and try to persuade others to our points of view. And it doesn’t mean we can’t call one another out if we believe the other is in sin. (I talk more about that in this post, that I wrote about a similar situation.)
However, how we treat one another in the midst of our disagreements says far more about how we love God than winning an argument. You may be completely correct (and I’m sure you are) in your view of politics, theology, writing style, and a thousand other things, but how you approach the people you disagree with is the measure of your character and relationship with God.
No one should ever be made to feel small for seeking to understand something. No one should ever be ridiculed for holding a different political or social view. No one should ever be insulted or gossiped about for being too far leaning in one direction or another. No one should ever be mocked for having a different style or personality type.
Let us always remember that these people are our brothers and sisters. They are our family. They are a part of us, and we should love them as we love ourselves.
Not to mention, we have to spend Eternity with these people, so we might as well learn to get along.
Let me close with this paraphrased version of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
“If I have the most accurate interpretation of Scripture and understanding of theology, but have not love, I am a heavy-metal garage band made up of first-year, middle-school band students. If I have the most correct view of politics and social issues and understand all the nuances of human behavior and why my views are in line with God, but have not love, I am a black hole. If I write the best stories that lay out the clearest path to salvation amidst an engaging plot and compelling characters, and if I am ridiculed by the world for my faith, but have not love, I am just a meme that nobody bothers to share.”