Loving our Disagreeing Brothers and Sister
There are many in the church passionate about the questions that come with the Coronavirus. Should you wear a mask or not? Should you attend church in person or not? If you go, should you wear a mask and hug your friends? What about social distancing? There is nothing wrong with having a strong opinion on these issues. They are important. The problem comes when camps form on both sides of these questions. Some have taken to all sorts of media and forums to express their opinions. There have been cases where the brother or sister on “the other side” are cast as oppressor, fearful, scare mongerer, and even as not a “true Christian”. The term “sheep” that is so central to the Gospels has even been turned into an insult. Lines have been thrown down accusing others over an issue that is not spelled out explicitly in the Bible. People are dividing over something Jesus did not address. These claims, at times, are offered with more than just passion. There is anger, derision, and a lack of love bubbling over from some in the Body of Christ.
I have been accused of more things by people who don’t know me than since Covid-19 restrictions started. That these same individuals are Christians is greatly upsetting. This is not because I believe them or agree with their reasoning. The Lord leads me as I lead our church. It is because of what this does to God’s church. Division is never healthy in the Body of Christ.
Jesus desire for all of us is communion. That we are one as a church universal as He and the Father are One. First and foremost, we are to be known as disciples by our love for one another…even when we disagree, take opposite positions on social issues or choose how we worship the Risen Savior.
Love is meant to define us just like it does Jesus.
Paul takes the issue so seriously, he writes if we don’t have love, we are nothing. Satan is also called the accuser of the Brethren in the Bible.
God takes our love for His people very seriously. He died for each of us so it makes perfect sense. We are all His children who are saved by Jesus’ blood. Does anyone like it when someone attacks their children?
So these voices may be correct in their judgment on Covid-19. If they express them with unrestrained anger, what are they according to Paul?
The women at the Tomb of Jesus are an excellent lesson in this regard. The show Jesus heart towards His disciples even when they are wrong. Mary Magdalene leads a party of women on a mission on the first Easter Sunday. They go to finish the preparation of Jesus’ dead body. They approach God with a totally wrong expectation and understanding of Jesus as a result. He is not there, He is risen but they miss that entirely. Instead, they are fretting about how to get the tomb open. It is sealed by a large stone.
Their hearts are with Jesus. That is great. Yet, they are mistaken in how they follow Him…in a huge way.
Any of us can find ourselves in this position as disciple. We love Jesus and seek to follow Him but we get a non-essential doctrinal question wrong. We may also make a choice on the direction of our lives, ministry, or specific steps taken in regard to Covid-19. It doesn’t mean we are not greatly beloved children of God. It just means, like children, we makes mistakes while following our parent.
God’s response is wonderful to contemplate. He sent an angel to throw aside the women’s source of worry, the stone, and then sit upon. The angel then points them to the message of Jesus and the evidence that it is true. Jesus follows this by appearing and cementing the message. He is risen so rejoice!
What did Jesus not do?
He did not stop loving them because they were wrong. He did not stop leading them. He did not throw around impassioned accusations. The Great Shepherd knows the sheep go astray. He gathered them up, dusted them off, and went on loving them. Our status as beloved disciples worthy of the love of God and the church is based on Jesus…not our own choices.
You may disagree with another brother or sister in this confusing time. You may think they are Mary Magdalene headed to the Tomb having forgotten the words of the Resurrection. You may even be correct. But that does not excuse us from following the example of Jesus. He loves us every day boldly and perfectly despite our many mistakes. He paid for our sins on the Cross out of love while we were legitimately His enemies. He then told us to love each other that same way.
This is our example to follow. If you are humble, you may also understand that you are just as likely to be the Mary Magdalene of the story.
Consider James 3:
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and h]”>[h]”>hh]”>]self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace
Let us dwell together in peace and love!