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GSFA Devotional: Bread for Our Journey

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Lenten Devotion (2) 

9 March 2022 

 

 When You Disagree With Someone  

 

Reading: Luke 6:27-38 

In the Ash Wednesday Service, the Officiant says the following words: 

I invite you therefore in the name of the Church to the observance of a Holy Lent by self-examination and repentance, by prayer, fasting and almsgiving, by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word. 

We often hear about prayer, Bible Study and giving, but we don’t hear much about repentance So, this Lenten season, I want to challenge you to consider the following as a possible area of repentance - to examine this area of your life, to work on it and with the help of the Holy Spirit, to bring about repentance. 

“What do you do when you disagree with somebody?” 

“What do you do when someone treats you badly?” 

“How do you respond when someone does not agree with your point of view about something?” 

The teaching of Jesus runs counter to our natural thinking and the way our society is teaching us to respond. I would like to focus on how we should react when someone says something we disagree with. This could be a relative, a friend, a leader, your Church. This could be about the Faith, this could be about politics, this could be about the vaccine, this could be about gossip. 

What I would like to focus on is not whether the content is correct or not, truth or not, Biblical or not, but what is the Biblical response when you disagree with somebody? 

The Biblical response is not what we see in our current culture and social settings. Sadly, discourse and dialogue have been set aside. If you disagree with someone, they write you off, they dissociate from you. They break the bridge. Friends, relatives and work associates block you and unfriend you on social media, their email, or on their phones – just because you disagree with them. To use the social term – they cancel you. 

What is most disturbing is we see this behaviour invading parts of God’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and this ought not be! Sure, there have been important doctrinal divisions in the universal Church which have divided us, and through ecumenical discussions, we seek to bridge these chasms. However, as disciples of Jesus, not associating with someone because they have a different political perspective, or different view on wearing masks, or different view on home schooling, or different view on the new store going in up the road, is not the character of Jesus. 

The follower of Jesus is different from the unbeliever. When we ask Jesus into our lives to be our Lord and Saviour, to forgive us of our sins and to take what He did on the Cross and make it ours, he gives us forgiveness. He gives us eternal life, but He also gives us an incredible gift. The Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit comes and indwells us. And the role of the Holy Spirit is to make us more like Jesus, to make us think like Him, to act like Him, to talk like Him. 

In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul explains the result of the Holy Spirit living in our lives. In Galatians 5 (v22-23), he says the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of having Him in our lives is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

 

We all know the Greatest Commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength; and the Second Greatest Commandment is to love your neighbour as yourself. 

 

Well again, the apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13 tells us what love is. “⁴ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant ⁵ or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; ⁶ it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. ⁷ Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 

Now these Scriptures, these exhortations that the Lord has given us, are not telling us we have to agree with others, or even like what they do, but they are telling us what appropriate behaviour toward others is. 

In the time in which we live, it is heartbreaking to see families torn apart, long-time friendships ruined, just because someone had a different opinion from you. What’s wrong with them having an incorrect opinion? Does it mean I can’t have a relationship with you just because you are wrong? Or taking the humble route, what if they are correct? 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, you can’t do anything about someone cancelling you, writing off your relationship, but you can do something about YOUR response! 

A few weeks ago, our Sunday reading was from Luke 4. Jesus was doing some ministry and went back to his hometown in Nazareth and begins to minister in the local synagogue. They didn’t like what he said. The folks in Nazareth were so enraged they wanted to kill him and throw him off the cliff to his death. In a serious way, we are killing friendships, family relationships, and the honour of good people – just because we don’t agree with them about something. This ought not be behaviour of the follower of Jesus. 

Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”. One other thought – If our mission is to reach others with the Gospel of Jesus and share his message with a hurting and needy world, how can we do this if we dissociate ourselves from others because we don’t like their perspective?? We can’t and we won’t. 

 

I invite you therefore in the name of the Church to the observance of a Holy Lent by self-examination and repentance, by prayer, fasting and almsgiving, by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word. 

Contributed by:
The Most Revd Dr Foley Beach 

Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church in North America 

Bishop, Anglican Diocese of the South