Union Ridge Church

May 10, 2023

by Reverend Dan on May 10, 2023
Today I’m going to share a revelation. An epiphany. A knowledge of such great proportions that the world has never known or seen such a thing. (My bad, I saw a movie last night and the setting was a carnival and there was this guy - “a carnival barker” - trying to get folks to come inside and see the Snake Woman. “She walks, she talks, she crawls on her belly like a reptile.”)

Did you know . . . it is possible . . . are you ready . . . here it is . . . we can disagree on an idea or belief someone else has . . . and still love each other?! Amazing! Who would have thought?! I know that the culture around us teaches us “if we don’t agree we must be enemies”, but that flies directly in the face of that “loving our neighbor” thing Jesus talked about. Personally, I think He was serious about that. The problem is that today, instead of speaking grace into the culture around us, the church is conceding to culture and allowing that friend versus enemies mindset to permeate the church. We’ve flipped “be not conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” totally upside down.
Let’s face it, conflict is a part of today’s culture. A big part. We’re never all going to agree on everything. Or anything it seems lately. News is no longer news. Instead, what’s presented is an ideology. The truth is relative; “your” truth and “my” truth. And when those “truths” don’t match up, attack! And the problem is, the church doesn’t have to participate, but it does. The thing the church must remember however (and reading your Bibles daily might help) is that conflict is as old as time. Cain and Able. That murderous little flare-up happened pretty early in the annals of history. And even Jesus lived His life with one conflict after another. The Sadducees. The Pharisees. The Romans. But He never stopped loving any of them. He even carried a cross up a hill and died for them. And to top it all off, while He was hanging there, He asked His Father to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing. I’m pretty sure he disagreed with what was happening, but he just couldn’t stop loving them.

There is no topic which cannot be discussed honestly with grace. You don’t have to agree. Remember the old adage? Just “agree to disagree.” Our problem is that we immediately associate the idea with the person and confuse the two. Then instead of civilly debating ideas it turns into visceral attacks on the person and their character. (If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, watch a Presidential debate.) If adults (especially adults who claim to be Christians) can’t debate a point and still leave the meeting (or even the church) arm in arm and part of the loving family of God, they’re missing the point of being the body of Christ. We are called to love and encourage and edify (build up) each other, not eviscerate and tear each other down. When that happens, nothing is resolved, the chasm between people widens, and we take another step further away from the cross.

“Love they neighbor.” I’m telling you; I really think He meant it.