Is it just me or is it becoming more and more difficult to speak with people about what’s happening in the world? So many major events and hot topics are on everyone’s minds, but there’s a great sense of fear to engage people in open, genuine conversation.
I will admit my mind is constantly turning about the racial injustice that’s still happening today, and I’m blown away by the mere fact that people are even arguing about its existence.
To me, it seems simple. People of color are being dehumanized, and that’s wrong. There’s no question about it. Something needs to change. And it needs to change now. And yet people are getting in fights and being vicious to one another because they don’t agree with that truth.
Now let’s be clear, there’s no ground for opinion when it comes to someone being treated as anything less than human. It’s not up for a discussion as to whether that’s acceptable or not. It’s wrong. Full stop. It must change.
But I do understand not everyone agrees with me, and some would have a different view on this topic as well as other highly controversial topics. I will admit that when it comes to this specific topic, it’s difficult for me to hear the comments and jokes about how someone doesn’t think systematic racism exists or that the media is making it into a bigger issue than it needs to be. It’s truly disheartening for me.
But it’s even more painful to hear it from people I love.
As passionate as an issue makes you, it’s important to remember that our responses and interactions with others should be rooted in our relationship with Jesus. Here are 3 ways we can seek to love those with whom we fundamentally disagree.
1. Don’t look for a fight.
I often struggle with speaking up when a loved one is hurling insults and insensitive comments toward the side of an argument they don’t agree with. I usually bite my tongue and do my best to not be triggered by the lack of empathy and compassion they have in their stance. I tread on the side of not saying anything because I don’t want to start a fight.
I’ve learned the best time to engage is when someone is truly open to hearing a viewpoint other than their own, which isn’t too often. If you know engaging with the other person means entering into a fight with no opportunity for openness and reasoning, then it’s perhaps best not to engage.
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” (Romans 14:1)
My most passionate stances on situations are ones I can clearly see represented in scripture. Just because someone doesn’t have the same view as you doesn’t mean they have a weaker faith. But, there is a possibility that it’s the case. God is still working in each one of us and revealing his truth to us.
I don’t know about you, but I’m still learning how to seek Jesus in my mindset, actions, and convictions. We are all works in progress and the person you love might not be in the same place of maturity on a topic as you are. Because of that, we need to be mindful of that person and not give into arguing over opinions.
I want to be clear, the way of Jesus is not to compromise truth for the sake of avoiding confrontation. But the way of Jesus is still aware of the other person even when they don’t agree with you.
The best use of your time and energy isn’t found in arguing with everyone who doesn’t agree with you in hopes of them being convinced. It’s far better to read where that person is and decide based on their frame of mind to engage or not. If they don’t have an open mind to see a point of view outside of their own, then you might as well be talking to a brick wall. It’s not a good investment in your relationship to step into a conversation that you know will lead to a fight for no other purpose than to fight.
We must look at our intentions honestly as we step into conversations with people of conflicting views.
2. Affirm all you can.
When it comes to loving people with different views on fundamental topics, it’s important to look at the things you can agree on. And in order to do that, you have to actually listen to them. Even if you’ve heard their viewpoint before, ask questions that further dig into where their heart is. You might actually find there are points you agree on.
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As believers, we should desire to encourage one another and support one another, even in areas we disagree. That isn’t to say that you need to falsely agree with them. But you should affirm the things you can, in good conscience, affirm.
It’s hard to talk with someone you love about a controversial topic. But we need to aim to be connected and unified to other believers. When you listen to your loved ones’ differing opinions, be intentional about truly hearing them. You might be surprised by the things you can both see eye to eye on. But again, this is truly accomplished when you probe a bit deeper into the conversation.
When you refrain from snapping back and setting up the perfect rebuttal and instead choose to fully listen, you’ll find the opportunity to understand their perspective. Empathy and compassion go a long way in these difficult conversations.
Try not to see conversations about difficult topics purely in terms of talking points and “facts.” Choose to see the human behind the conversation. See the person you love. And affirm the things you can in the best way that you can.
3. Don’t let your response look like the world’s.
Whether the one you love fundamentally disagrees with you on a spiritual issue or a secular one doesn’t matter. You’re still called to respond in a way that glorifies Jesus.
This is a heavy call. But it’s not one we carry alone. As Jesus continues to refine you and make you more like him, your response to situations that upset you should be different than the world’s.
Don’t lash out with harmful words that tear down and destroy the other person. Instead be gracious and loving with your words. This does not mean your words should be without truth. Of course they should be full of truth. But love should always accompany them.
“…to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23-24)
Because of Jesus you are a new creation. And because we’re new creations, our minds and attitudes shouldn’t be the same as they once were. Our desire should be to continue to love the other person, even when their views on major issues are different. We should continue to search out ways to have an honest conversation, stating your convictions, and still walk away loving the other person.
This isn’t to discount the ways in which you agree and to simply say, “Don’t worry about it because we all need to be unified.” I’ve seen people use unity as a battlecry to not fight for justice or to push the norms of life that are unacceptable. Yes, unity is important, but so is truth and justice.
Rooted in Love
When you love someone and find they don’t share the same viewpoint on a critical issue, it’s hard to know what to do. It’s okay to engage in these conversations and for both of your views to be challenged. But these conversations need to take place with the goal of maintaining your love. Even as we disagree with one another, our love for Jesus should overflow.
This and this alone is what will separate us from the rest of the world. Our love for Jesus must make us different. It must make us better at caring for one another even when that’s hard.