Dealing with Divided Opinions
Disagreeing with our friends can be really tough. Whether it’s over politics, ethics or questions of theology, we can go from feeling like we’re totally on the same page, to a million miles apart in the blink of an eye. Disagreements can end up putting a strain on our relationships, and sometimes can leave us feeling alienated and alone.
You may be facing this type of situation right now: you and your friends may hold different and passionate views about who to vote for in next week’s election. As Rosie mentioned in her beautiful interview on Saturday, we shouldn’t be surprised that we’ll have different opinions to those around us. God made us all beautifully unique. He made us individuals and this is a joyful gift. And with this we’ll have different views and perspectives on life, so let’s not be surprised by this.
So how do we deal with divided opinions? How can we be salt and light in the way that we deal with disagreements, big or small?
This is a massive topic and this post won’t even scratch the surface, but I’ve put a couple of thoughts below and I pray that they may be useful. As always, I encourage you to pray, pray and pray some more; seeking God’s wisdom for our lives is always the best approach.
1. Our priority is love.
This is the first calling on our life as Christians: to love.
Jesus spells this out really clearly for us when someone asks Him about which of the Bible’s commandments is the most important:
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
So Jesus makes it really clear that the most important thing we’re called to do in life is to love God and love those around us. And there isn’t a get-out clause or footnote in tiny letters meaning that this doesn’t apply when you disagree with your friends or the people around you! We are called to love those around us - perhaps especially when we disagree with them. Let’s make sure we aren’t judging, patronising or disrespecting those around us who we disagree with. We are called to love no matter what.
So how can we do live lives of love when we disagree on issues that we feel really passionately about?
2. Start by listening, then listen some more and be slow to speak.
James 1:19 says: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”.
So, let’s not rush to share our opinion before we’ve had a chance to listen first. The Bible tells us that that’s the wise approach and calls us to be self-controlled (one of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5). It’s so tempting to want to dive into the conversation to make sure that our opinion is heard loud and clear.
Proverbs 13:3 says: “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.”
The writer of Proverbs is encouraging us not to speak rashly, and I think this is worth bearing in mind for our social media too. If we’re in any doubt as to whether we should post something or share a particular article, let’s be slow to speak. Let’s think about the impact it might have on those who see it, and try to avoid using it as an opportunity for ‘point scoring’ if we’re in the midst of a disagreement with friends.
Let’s be quick to listen, and slow to speak. If we’re in any doubt, let’s choose to listen first, and then listen some more.
3. Keep the main thing the main thing.
Like in every situation we face in life, let’s keep the main thing the main thing. Let’s be found grounded in the wisdom of God’s word and let’s seek His truths for our lives. Let’s pray that He would give us wisdom for the challenges we face, and love for those around us no matter what.
Let’s pray that we wouldn’t be knocked off course by divided opinions or disagreements, but that we would keep our eyes firmly fixed on the hope with have in Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life, and following Him is the way that we have life to the full.
And as a little footnote for our UK readers, the Bible is clear that we should respect those who are in authority over us (have a read of Romans 13 for more on this). So whatever the outcome is next week and whether we feel delighted, disappointed or fearful for the future, we are all called to respect our government leaders, to pray for them and pray for unity for our nations.
Emma grew up in Bath, before moving to Cambridge as a teenager and staying on to study Law there at university. Since graduating, Emma has worked in the finance industry and is the More Precious Development Manager, managing the fundraising and strategy, as well as our busy events programme. Emma is so loving seeing God use More Precious to grow his kingdom, and her prayer is that He would continue to use it for His glory. Emma is married to Luke, and they go to church in London.