Have you seen the protestors demanding their freedom from government control? How about the wearers-of-masks in public places? Regardless of whether you protest or comply, cover your face or cough in public, we all have a choice to make: how will we treat those who don’t share the same opinion as us?
Yesterday I wore a mask for the first time at Home Depot. It was embarrassing, especially when I bumped into my next door neighbor who had a naked face! I felt ashamed to be walking around knowing my risk of infection is very low and I am in the least-likely category to be adversely affected. And then I think of my daughter. She has a heart condition and respiratory challenges. If I pass a virus on to her it could be fatal… or maybe not. Either way, it’s not my risk. So what do I do? I choose manage my freedom for the sake of love.
But then how do I feel to those who would communicate to me that wearing a mask is stupid and just a fear-based reaction? How do I feel about people protesting even wearing a mask in some places? How do I feel about going back to the office?
I’m challenged to manage me… keep the main thing the main thing… and not judge someone else’s decision (without an honest conversation). Protect the connection; value differences. Here’s why…
This following is a chapter taken directly from our new book : Finding Hope in Crazy Times
Recently my wife received a distraught phone call from one of our daughters at public high school. Through the tears, she explained that she and some friends had been having a discussion that had turned to biblical things. The whole group of friends had turned on her, and she had felt dishonored and unheard. Her natural response was to point out the flaws in their reasoning (through her lens) and to think less of her friends. When our daughter got home, we heard more. The teenagers had taken something that Emily had felt very strongly about and made a case that her stand was ungodly. Ouch.
As Emily researched why she believed what she did, my wife encouraged her to step into her friend’s shoes and look at why they had taken the stand they had. She encouraged Emily to see that while they didn’t agree with her beliefs, they were standing for righteousness as they understood it. In the end, they had to agree to disagree, but Emily came to see that their stance did not make them “evil.” And she came to appreciate the freedom that she experiences because of what she believes.
Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.
For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.
Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat,
and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.
Who are you to judge another’s servant?
To his own master he stands or falls.
Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.Romans 14:1-4
We all experience what Emily did that day. We all run into people who believe differently than us. Our family members, work colleagues, and those in the community around us all have different experiences and understandings of who God is and how His Kingdom operates. It’s easy to feel offended when someone close to us suddenly exposes a belief that is offensive to us. Our first instinct is often to want to correct the person rather than hearing their heart and why they believe what they do.
Janine once told me of a friend she had at college called Sarah. Sarah had recently come to know Jesus and was forcefully pro-abortion. Janine figured that as Sarah got to know Jesus more, her stance would eventually change, so she kept quiet whenever the subject was raised. Finally, one day, Sarah revealed that at sixteen, she had carried a child to full term and then given her up for adoption. The experience was so incredibly painful for her that she had decided that abortion must be a less painful way to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. Janine believes that abortion is biblically wrong and does speak up about those beliefs, but it is not her job to judge another’s beliefs or motives.
It is easy to judge a person’s beliefs when they are different from yours, especially when you haven’t heard their heart and why they believe that way. As soon as I feel contempt or judgment towards someone, I am on the way to cutting off a relationship with that person. My job is not to judge them or convince them of their wrong choices or beliefs; my job is to love them. I have the privilege of showing the love of the Father to them, whether or not I agree with their beliefs or their lifestyle. I don’t have to change my beliefs to agree with theirs, but I am called to focus on what we do agree on rather than what we don’t. Often, we find it difficult to disagree because our relationships are founded on our areas of agreement. When we discover that we are different, it forces us to a new level of love. It takes supernatural love to love those who oppose us.
Father, thank You that You loved me even when I was completely ignorant of You.
Help me not to belittle those I don’t agree with.
Help me to see them as you see them and believe the best of them.
Help me to trust that You are able to make them “stand” even when I think they don’t have enough revelation to do so.
Let me see the value in all those around me.
- Where have you judged others for what they believe (or don’t believe)?
- How have you judged or labeled whole groups of people who are different from you?
- What does God have to say about those people or groups of people?
- Why is it difficult to be with people who disagree with you or your values? How did Jesus do this?
Identify someone around you that holds a different belief than you. Reach out to them today and hear their story, simply to grow in love and value for others (especially when you disagree with them).