I often think of Jesus 12 followers we call the Disciples. Within that group are people of widely varied backgrounds and some obvious political differences. There was a zealot and a tax collector in the group. That means one man worked for Rome and another was trying to see them expelled from their land, even if force was needed. There were fisherman in the group who would have clearly hated the Roman taxes. It was a hodgepodge of backgrounds and viewpoints, and I am sure they did not agree with everything. Yet, they were all choosing to follow Jesus together.
Fast forward two thousand years and Jesus’ followers have not changed very much. Each week as I look out over the crowd I see people who have polar opposite political views. The collection of individuals who follow Jesus usually have very little in common other than their faith in Jesus.
I often wonder if this is by God’s design. He puts us together with people of different viewpoints so that we can learn to overcome our differences.
Yesterday I was listening to a little talk radio. After about 20 minutes I changed the channel because of the constant yelling and bickering back and forth. One person stood firm as if he had everything figured out completely and the other person felt the same way. Anger, yelling and general bad behavior is how these people treated their differences.
For Christians, there is another approach to disagreement other than getting louder. Jesus calls us to love our enemies. The Biblical idea of love is about action. In simple terms, I treat people who I disagree with the way I would want to be treated. One sign of spiritual maturity is how we handle the people we most adamantly do not agree with on a topic.
I think God brings together people of widely varied backgrounds to teach us how to be his followers during disagreements. What if we stopped yelling at that person and started praying for them? What if we stopped sharing political pieces meant to hurt and posted articles intended to help? What if we sat quietly and listened to the other side and then smiled and hugged the person? I do not think we will ever reach agreements with every other Christian, especially on political issues, but maybe we can learn to work together for the overall good of the kingdom, even if it is just that piece of the kingdom in our hearts.