I had a very encouraging conversation yesterday with a brother concerning Romans 14:1-15:7. We were talking about how to disagree with brothers and sisters without separating from them. Here are some points from our discussion:
- Start with our agreement, primarily in the person and work of Jesus Christ, in our common relationship to God and to one another. When we start with our agreement we can recognize that most of our disagreements are insignificant compared to the greatness and immensity of our agreements.
- When we finally discuss our disagreement, we do so as brothers and/or sisters. Thus, we treat one another with respect.
- We also hold our beliefs (even strong beliefs) with humility, recognizing that God can always teach us through our brother or sister.
- While discussing our disagreements we never say anything or do anything that would cause our brother or sister to stumble or to hinder their growth in the faith. We also regard our brother or sister as more important – even more important than showing our views to be right.
- Even if we fail to agree and even if we continue to hold our own beliefs (being convinced in our own consciences), we live in a way that honors our brother or sister.
- Even if we fail to agree, we end with a reminder of our mutual relationship to one another through Christ. If God has accepted us in Christ, then we must accept one another.
- If the brother or sister chooses to separate from us, we do not have to react by separating ourselves from him or her. We cannot choose how another persons acts toward us, but we can choose to be loving in return.
What do you think? What would you add?
(And, by the way, yes, there are disagreements that can cause us to separate. We read about some of these in Scripture. But, they are usually well beyond what usually causes us to separate from brothers and sisters.)