Why Disagreements?

disagreement

Galatians 2:11-14 NASB

“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Acts 15:39-40 NIV

They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.”

So here we have four people, noted in the New Testament, who obviously all were believers and within whom the Holy Spirit obviously resided, being in disagreement with one another.

Peter, Paul, Barnabas, James plus Mark and Silas if you count them as part of the disagreement.

Do you ever wonder, like I do, how it is that Christians, within whom God’s Holy Spirit resides, can have differing opinions?

Isn’t it interesting that the Holy Spirit of God saw fit to include this in the New Testament, so that we might be aware of it and learn from it.

One of the posts I published recently touched on politics. Now one doesn’t need to be a brain surgeon to know that when one does so, one is entering into troubled waters. Some of my followers probably read it but they chose not to indicate as to whether they liked it or not. Some chose to indicate that they did like it but did not comment. Another Christian individual indicated he liked it and added a comment and another Christian took the time to let me know that he had issues with some of my content. Actually, I got off with only minor scratches, considering the subject matter that I had entered into.

But politics is not the only area of contention that Christians have disagreements on, we all know there are many others.

When one considers the power of the Holy Spirit that the Apostles and early disciples of the Christian Church were promised and given and the numerous demonstrations of God’s power that were active in the early Christian Church, we can’t overlook the obvious examples of disagreement and discord that God’s Holy Spirit also wants us to be aware of.

And we also can’t overlook the obvious different levels of understanding of God’s will and God’s ways in the early Christian Churches where certain individuals within those early Churches made decisions that also needed correcting. You recall how the Apostle Paul had to correct a number of Churches to whom he wrote his letters to.

The reality that I see and you can correct me if you think that my thinking is adrift, is that sometimes, we make mistakes and sometimes we have disagreements, even though God’s Holy Spirit dwells within us. Does that mean that one person is always wrong and another is always right? I don’t think this is necessarily so. I also entertain the idea that there is a strong possibility that both parties who express differing opinions or make different decisions could fall short of God’s perfect will and God’s perfect ways. We only see in part now, we only understand in part now. 1 Corinthians 13:9-12 refers.

The important thing to be aware of, from my perspective, is being aware of other perspectives that may differ from my opinions and how I react to those differing opinions, both from a Biblical and personal perspective. If there is a difference of opinion in one of the main doctrines of Christianity, especially where it involves the deity of Jesus, then my understanding is that if the understanding or beliefs of the opposing individual detracts from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then he or she and I will part ways.

Conversely, if there is room for a difference of opinion, while still maintaining fellowship, then that is the route that God’s Word tells me to follow. We see a number of examples of this in the New Testament where one person eats all different kinds of food or holds all days as the same, while another refrains from eating certain foods and may honour one day over another. I call these “decisions of the conscience”. Romans 14 refers.

Problem being, what you may consider as a “decision of the conscience” and what I may consider as a “decision of the conscience” may also differ. You may think that my decision does not qualify as a “decision of the conscience” and I may think that it does. Church history provides many examples of these differing perspectives.

If maneuvering through these realities wasn’t easy for the early Christian Church, why do we think it should be any different for us?

I find it strange that we look for perfection in others but overlook the lack of perfection in ourselves. I find it strange that we expect others to forgive us when we cross the line but we draw the line on others, when they cross the line. We all make mistakes, we all make errors in judgements, we all are imperfect. That is a reality that Jesus stressed over and over again, removing the branch from our own eye before we attempt to remove the twig from another. When we stop evaluating our own words and actions and focus entirely on what others do, our center of balance becomes distorted and out of line with God’s perfect will and ways. That, in my opinion, is reality.

Time and time again, the essence of the commandments of Jesus to all of us comes to the forefront as a guide on how we are to proceed and if behooves all of us to be mindful that this is His guidance to us.

Matthew 7:12 NIV  “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Galatians 5:14 NIVFor the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

We dislike and are offended when Christians are labelled as being self righteous and bigoted yet we sling labels at others without hardly any hesitation. The Democrats and Republicans as examples, are political organizations that are comprised of people. People, that are imperfect, like you and like me.

When we stop seeing them or hearing them as people and see them as a group that is to be demonized, totally rejecting them outright without hearing their opinions and concerns, regardless of which side of the fence we are on, are we following the guidance and commandment of Jesus and loving them as we love ourselves?

UPDATE: Steven from https://thebrewisamusing.com/2020/01/21/why-not-rather-be-wronged-2/ recently pointed out that Paul and Mark did reconcile with one another later on as confirmed in “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”  (2 Timothy 4:11, NIV 1984). It’s important to remember that reconciliation between brothers and sisters in Christ should always be an important objective, if at all possible.

Food for thought.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

27 comments

    • Unfortunately, it would appear, that it happens to the best of us. The underlying need for forgiveness for ourselves changes our perspective on forgiving others.

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  1. Yes, there are many different perspectives, and each of us is flawed. But it could be that each perspective also has some merit. It could be that God wanted the apostles to part ways – the gospel got spread in more places that way!
    I was raised in one denomination, got turned into a “Jesus freak” in college through another denomination, married another kind of “Christian,” and over the past 46 years went to about half a dozen different churches. I have seen the differences in the details of their doctrine and have had the reasoning behind these differences explained to me. I feel blessed to have been exposed to so many perspectives, as I ultimately “seek divine perspective.” One night I dreamt I had a fortune in cash stashed in the sleeve of an old grey hoodie of mine. At first I thought it just meant “treasure in an earthen vessel,” but later as I recalled the money was in ones, fives, tens, twenties, hundreds, etc. (different “denominations”!) that my “treasure” was my experience and all I’ve learned over the years from various churches. (By the way, that old grey hoodie has one word on it: “Impact!”) I have gained a great deal from my experience and have learned that if I write someone off as “just wrong,” I may miss an important lesson.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Ann, as a student of Church history, I heartily agree. No matter how positive or negative the exposures are that we encounter, there is always something to be learned and to gain appreciation of, especially as it pertains to the wisdom to be found in God’s Word. Thanks for taking the time to comment, always appreciated. You have yourself a blessed day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Spirit filled people are still human. This goes for all the apostles as well. This is why I never attribute the words men speak to God. Though I won’t deny that men sometimes speak Gods’ Truth.
    To be honest Bruce, when I see disagreements based on “biblical principles” or the bible in general, I liken it to the story of babel, when God confused the languages, it’s just something that God wants us to overcome. Instead of languages, it’s understanding that gets confused.
    Blessings

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    • Hi Stephen, considering that all of the Bible was written by men, even the words that were recorded as being spoken by Jesus, one would have absolutely nothing to stand on, if one never attributed their words, as coming from God. 1 Peter 1:16-21 refers. I know you and I disagree on the validity of God’s Word as it pertains to the Bible so I won’t pursue that any further. This is in itself a good example of how two believers can disagree. You have yourself a blessed day Stephen!

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      • “if one never attributed their words, as coming from God”, I wouldn’t do such a thing. There is no doubt some of Gods’ own words are recorded in scripture. It’s never been my position that the bible is pure fiction.
        My comment was not to cast doubt on the bible, seems you missed the point entirely. Or maybe you didn’t?
        Not so sure 1 Peter was the best choice to make your point, biblically speaking.
        Blessings

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      • Bruce, you and I have way more in common pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven and even the physical realm then we both realize. I’m just poking a little bit of fun and have resolved to be more encouraging towards you as I do appreciate most of your musings. You most certainly serve a purpose in things pertaining to the Kingdom and I can respect that, wether or not I always agree with how you go about it.
        Blessings

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      • Stephen, you’re probably right and you’ll have to forgive this old fella for not being as open to your poking a bit of fun at me as I should be. In my younger days I was quite a trickster. Scary what aging does to you. Just want you to know that I do appreciate your comments and I know that sometimes I could use a slap alongside my head. I value your friendship, I sincerely do. Blessings brother.

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  3. Interesting. I am curious to which side of the fence you are on politically. I am a Conservative Republican and I support Donald Trump who is a great supporter of Christians. My son, whom I dearly love is a liberal Democrat agnostic who loved Bernie Sanders, a Socialist. We do not discuss politics. I am not going to change his mind and he is not going to change my mind.

    A while back one of the elders ( a great man of God) left our church and took a number of people with him. He had a disagreement with our Pastor, who basically asked, “If you don’t like our church why don’t you leave?” As in the case of Barnabus and Paul, God allowed this to happen and is using both men greatly. Both men are happy and continue to be used of God. Neither one is right. Neither one is wrong.

    I rarely take the time to read other people’s blogs but I am really glad I read yours today. Especially the last paragraph asking why we have a low standard for ourselves and a high standard for everybody else. Very good blog.

    Your friend,
    Terri

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    • Hi Terri, interesting comments. I am not an American but rather a Canadian so I am obviously not affiliated with either the Democrats or the Republicans but if I was an American I would have a really hard time deciding on whom I would be voting for.

      I’ve followed your political challenges for years. And you folks aren’t alone, we have our own similar problems here in Canada. Because you folks use the Electoral College system, where each state’s political parties nominate a group of electors who are extremely loyal to their respective parties, their number being equal to the number of electoral votes the state has, which in turn is equal to the number of senators (two per state) and number of representatives (determined by population) said state has. In Canada we do a similar process where each Province has a number of legislative seats allocated based on population and ultimately the political party that gains the most seats across all provinces in Canada determines who becomes our Prime Minister. Our Senators are appointed their positions by the current Prime Minister and our Senators do NOT have the same political power that your Senators have. They (our Senators) decide when they will retire. Our Senators generally fine tune and rubber stamp what has been passed in the Legislature. Our laws are basically voted on by our designated Provincial representatives. Classic conservative and liberal lines have become blurred in our country and I’ve seen indications that the same thing is happening in yours. Classical liberalism in Canada is a political ideology and a branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom. Classic Conservatism in Canada generally claims to favour lower taxes, small government, more transfer of federal government powers to the provinces and a tougher stand on “law and order” issues.

      The Liberals under Justin Trudeau have been very open to advocating liberties with regard to the LGBTQ community so I have been voting for Conservative candidates for quite a while. But, both major parties are swinging in the same direction so that is where the blurring comes into effect.

      If I was an American, how would I vote? I understand the positives associated with advancing Christian morals, especially as it pertains to abortion etc. It’s the moralistic mannerisms of the man in charge that I have a problem with. Does the end justify the means? I honestly don’t know. I do know that when Christians start to demonize one party as opposed to another, where one is all wrong and the other is all right and compromise is no longer an option, everyone loses. If push comes to shove I would probably be on the Republican side but grudgingly. There are also so many other critical issues at stake such as immigration, our environment, NATO, foreign affairs, gun control, national debt, etc, that the task at hand and the consequences of maintaining the liberties we currently have, what with Russia, China and other world powers who are opposed to democracy, that the magnitude of solving the outstanding problems without working towards compromise, becomes almost mind boggling. Huge problems that can only be addressed with a undivided nation like the US at the lead. Unfortunately you folks aren’t undivided.

      Scary stuff if I was a humanist and only relied on what humanity could accomplish. The outlook does not look good. Hope this answers your question, probably gave you a lot more info that you wanted, sorry about that. Grace, peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Do you ever wonder, like I do, how it is that Christians, within whom God’s Holy Spirit resides, can have differing opinions?”

    No, I don’t, really.

    I believe that we do this because of our natural fallen nature. Oh, the pride we all possess!

    We all want to be “perfectly correct” within the world of competitiveness, as well as it serving as a means of placing the band aid on our own insecurities. Just my thoughts.
    Take care, Bruce.

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