Most of us hold certain views that we have ascertained to be right. We value various ideals we think are best for our lives and for society as a whole. Hopefully those of us who use the Bible as our source for matters of faith and practice take time to read it, study it and know what we believe. In biblical studies there is great uniformity of interpretation regarding many teachings but also some gray areas about which scholars disagree. In all fields of study students draw conclusions from the data and various interpretations they read and hear. It is good and natural to dig, weigh information and make conclusions. An important aspect for Christians is how we convey our conclusions.
After any interaction with us people should leave with a sense that they were respected and treated with dignity. They should feel that we were interested in them and their wellbeing. We should stand up for everyone being able to express views freely and to live in safety. Polite dialogue is beneficial. Disagreement does not equal rejection.
In an interview with The Christian Post Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church said, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies: The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means that you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
Here are two examples of this. Most pastors these days require premarital counseling for couples. Many of these ministers spell out the sexual ethic taught by Jesus and suggest that those cohabitating or sleeping together abstain for the time leading up to the wedding. These ministers don’t hate the couples who have sex before marriage, but believe the Bible spells out a different and preferable yet difficult way.
Some Christians are committed to very simple living and make giving to and serving amongst the poor a high priority. They might consider our lifestyles materialistic. They don’t hate us but have experienced a better way that probably has improved their spirituality.
Whether it is advocating for sexual purity or generosity or breaking down racial barriers, how we say our words is as important as the words we choose. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) In the parable of the Good Samaritan he taught that our neighbor is the one on whom we can have mercy. The way we treat each other demonstrates our love and mercy, not whether we agree on everything.