Christians, Love, And Disagreement
I don't know of one person who was indifferent about the recent presidential elections. Opinions were strong and expressed freely all over social media (thank God for freedom of speech in our nation). Sometimes emotions ran high and words weren't always gracious, both between Christians with differing opinions, as well within greater society.
So the question is: is it possible to love each other though we disagree on such deep levels of passion and ideology? I mean, is it possible as Christians to NOT WITHDRAW our hearts from each other, or to continue to love those who are angry and feeling as though their rights were stripped away in one fell swoop on election day?
As of this writing it appears that Hillary Clinton actually WON the popular vote by a slim margin, even though President-Elect Donald Trump won the electoral votes, which means our nation is divided in half ideologically.
In the other half of America (speaking as one who voted for Trump, not because he was perfect, but because of his platform)— people who stand for Roe V. Wade, gay marriage, for (more) open borders, and for progressive Supreme Court nominees—are highly upset and extremely sad post-election. I had one Facebook friend who was so angry and scared, she stated she will no be longer friends with anyone who voted for Trump.
The question is, can we love in spite of great differences? Can we HONESTLY love others who are opposed to everything we stand for?
The simple answer: yes.
For the not-so-simple answer, I'd like to share an experience Rusty and I had a few years ago. We stopped at Central Market in Lancaster City on our way to another appointment and decided to buy lunch there and eat at the table area at the far end of the market. The tables were quite full, but there was one with a 30-something guy sitting there reading his paper. We approached him and asked if we could share his table, and he politely invited us to sit down.
We struck up a conversation and I sensed God's love for this man. He was single and creative, and I really wanted to bless him. After about 10-15 minutes of conversation I asked if we could pray a blessing over his life. He was obviously surprised at that request, but he agreed, and we quietly prayed whatever God gave us to pray over his creativity (I think he was a photographer if I remember correctly) and over his life.
After the prayer, he looked at us oddly and said something like, "It's interesting that as Christians you prayed blessings for me. Because you see, I'm gay."
He said it tentatively, as though he was EXPECTING us to reject him or to take back our blessings.
Now, I am a Christian who holds to the Bible as being from God: as being His voice, expressed through stories and experiences of His interactions with human beings. I believe God LOVES everyone, and the only unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Spirit of God. I believe the Bible teaches that things like rage, cowardice, lying, and pride, are sins (in one interpretation of the Bible's original language, sin means to miss the mark). I also believe God eagerly and readily forgives sin as we come to Him. With that said, my understanding of the Bible is that it also states that it's a sin for a man to lie with a man or a woman to lie with a woman.
But that belief does not mean as a Christian I hate rageaholics, cowards, liars, arrogant people...or gays, or for that matter, anyone.
Jesus loved us, with all our messiness. Jesus loved adulterers. Jesus loved thieves and liars and cheats. He loved everybody. The only people He took issue with were the religious leaders who couldn't see the great love of God demonstrated through Him time and time again, and who called Him a devil. But even so, on the cross He loved and forgave them in their ignorance and unbelief.
Back to the young man at the market. We had a great conversation together. Since I'd experienced some childhood trauma associated with sexual abuse, and I'd also been trained in some inner healing models, I understood that trauma can actually affect DNA gene markers. (Here's a link to an article about that, if you're interested: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-25156510). Our DNA and our DNA gene markers, affect who we are and how we respond to life. So DNA that has been changed by trauma can wreak havoc on our beings from an early age.
This was new information for the young man. He listened attentively as I shared about my own healing journey and how I'd been helped through counseling by people who knew God and knew how to help me heal. He openly shared about his own childhood trauma of sexual abuse.
We knew, as we watched his mental wheels turning about what he'd been hearing, that what we'd shared was enough. The rest of his journey from then on was up to God, and God would complete it. We knew we weren't to religiously push him to go to church, or tell him what he needed to do...had we done anything other than LOVED him and shared with utmost honesty and honor, he probably would've withdrawn his heart and perhaps even dismissed us and our conversation as irrelevant.
As Christians, it's helpful to discern (with the help of the Holy Spirit) where other people are on their journey when we share together. We need to relate to other people from where they ARE currently in their thinking and perceptions—and not from where we WANT them to be.
Danny Silk says the goal of confrontation is to maintain heart connection. I LOVE that! Though we may disagree strongly with others, our goal is not to be proven RIGHT. It's not to make sure we're HEARD. The GOAL is to maintain heart connection. To love. To discern where the other person is emotionally and spiritually and to love them there in that place...and if there's an openness to walk with them a step farther along on the journey, well and good. If not, love covers a multitude of sins. Love is patient and kind, not rude or disrespectful. Love never fails. (1 Cor. 13:4-8)
I'm often not very good at loving. Many times I want to be RIGHT rather than maintaining heart connection. But I'm learning.
So here's to allowing others to be where they are and to loving, praying, blessing, and honoring. Here's to reaching out if we've offended, in the right time, and with the pure goal of maintaining heart connection. Here's to not speaking in order to be right or to be heard, but to speaking only with honest love.
God, fill us with YOU. Make us lovers of humans, and especially of those who disagree with us.