This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt. The prompt today is “disagree.”
“How wonderful it is, how pleasant for God’s people to live together in harmony!” (Psalm 133:1 GNB)
Wonderful and pleasant… but not always easy.
As a musician, I love the word “harmony” that is used in several translations of this verse. Others replace it with “unity” but I think “harmony” sums it up better.
Harmony involves notes clashing and then resolving. Without those clashes, the music would be bland and boring. Taken in isolation, a pair of notes might not seem to go together, but, in the context of the piece, the result is beautiful.
I think this illustrates well how we are to relate to one another as Christians. We will not always agree on everything, but we are still united in Christ, and we need to accept that and learn to disagree well.
It is perfectly possible. I have witnessed this in one of my friendships this year, and, while it has not always been easy, I think it has ultimately enriched our friendship. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned:
Don’t lose sight of what you have in common. My friend and I disagree on various matters connected to the Christian faith. Freewill vs. predestination, and women in leadership, have been the main topics we’ve discussed, but we have different perspectives on a few other matters too. However, we are in complete agreement about our love for God, our faith in Jesus, and our desire to live in a way that honours him. That is far more important than the areas where our opinions differ.
Talk about it openly with a view to understand each other’s perspectives. These conversations can be hard. At times I felt like my friend was trying to persuade me of her point-of-view, and that she was saying her way was correct. I felt that I was more ready to accept we had different opinions and to move on. However, in the end, the conversations have give us greater understanding of one another. We can see the reasons for the different views even if we don’t agree. Sometimes Christians can be convinced that their view alone is the biblical one, but, honestly, we wouldn’t even be having some of these conversations if the Bible was completely clear and there was only one interpretation on certain things!
Agree to disagree. Once you’ve talked about it and you understand each other’s perspectives, let it go and move on. One of the things I love about my friend is that while we still disagree, I don’t doubt her friendship or support. There was a time when I would hold back from talking about certain things because I didn’t want to get into a debate, but we’ve reached the point where we know each other’s views and have accepted them, and we can talk openly again. Just last week, she told someone that, while she disagreed with me “on paper,” watching my example was challenging her views. It felt like one of the highest compliments she could give.
Respect and understanding count for a lot. And when we manage to reach that place of harmony, it is truly wonderful!