Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Agree to Disagree

Usually, when you hear "Let's just agree to disagree" that means that the two sides have discussed something and neither has been effective in persuading the other. For the parties involved, agreement on the topic is not likely to happen, so they "agree to disagree". Sometimes that's the best solution to a disagreement.

But that's not what I'm talking about right now when I say "agree to disagree."

One thing I've noticed over the last 20+ years is that all too often, Christians like to disagree. Sometimes they disagree with those outside the church. But mostly, they disagree with those not in the same kind of church. So, a church becomes a group of people who all agree with each other that they disagree with everyone else. Their identity becomes the points of disagreement with other churches.

I've seen this focus on disagreement over and over, and I especially see it on Facebook.

Recently I recommended a quote to a friend. I knew he agreed with the quote and I thought the quote expressed the sentiment eloquently. But the author of the quote is not a member of the same religious tribe. So, the response was something like, "I don't think I would agree with everything he says, but I like the quote."

A couple of years ago, there was a viral youtube video by Jefferson Bethke called "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus". I recommended it on my Facebook page. I wrote a note about it. And I got some very harsh private feedback because I don't agree with what Jeff Bethke teaches and because he is not in my religious tribe, but I recommended the video anyway. At that time, I felt the need to put in a "I don't agree with everything..." disclaimer, something I no longer see the need to do. It's safe to assume that I don't completely agree with any author or speaker that I quote, so such a disclaimer is superfluous.

A Facebook friend recently posted a link about sharing the gospel with gay friends. It was a well done article that expressed the nature and ubiquity of sin and the forgiveness of God very well and exhorted humility. But it was written by someone in a different kind of church. The first comment was a preacher from his religious tribe saying basically, "I don't agree with everything the article says, but it's pretty good."

And I see this. All. The. Time. Over and over. I disagree with this, but...

What the what? Since when do I have to agree with everything someone says before I recommend something he says? And why do people have a tendency to get so focused on disagreement? 

This focus on disagreement is something the Bible warns us about. In the Bible, it's called strife, contention, variance, quarreling, wrangling, etc. It's not good. It's a work of the flesh. (Gal. 5:20; 1 Cor. 3:3; 1 Tim. 6:4; Rom. 1:29 etc. etc. etc.) Don't look for points of disagreement. It will consume and devour you and in turn, you will consume and devour those with whom you disagree.

Oh I admit to being guilty of this. I'm not on my moral high horse here. I've sat through sermons looking for points of disagreement. I've sat listening intently for a mistake so I could point it out. It's horrible and destructive. I've listened to sermons and then talked to people about what all the preacher said that we disagreed with. My partners and I agreed to disagree with the preacher and we enjoyed discussing the disagreement. It's not healthy. Remember, love does not provoke. Love does not think evil. Love does not dishonor others.

For the past 20+ years, I've been trained to find points of disagreement. I've been trained to look for errors. I want to change that focus and look for agreement. I want to find common ground. I want to be more positive. I want to look for what's right. I want to ask, "What good thing can I learn from this author or speaker?" instead of "What bad thing can I expose?"

As I mentioned in a previous post, some say I believe "anything goes". Yet here I am again pointing out something that's wrong. Looking for points of disagreement is wrong. Seeking an argument is wrong. Looking for variance with someone else is a work of the flesh. It robs us of joy and this nit-picking attitude comes from our enemy. It does not come from love.

If the church is known for what it disapproves or for its disagreement, then I fear that contention, strife, variance, quarreling, discord, etc. have a stronghold on the church. Jesus said that His disciples would be known for how we love one another. How about instead of agreeing with each other to disagree with everyone else, let's agree to not be so disagreeable.

No comments:

Post a Comment