I have plenty of friends (or frienemies) on social media I disagree with. Some hold political or religious views that are hard for me to swallow. I’ve felt the urge to click the unfollow button multiple times, but I don’t. Here’s why:
1. Healthy Heretics. I was walking my pastor out to his quirky VW van. We were on the topic of heresies (because that’s a normal conversation you have in a parking lot). He reminded me that heretics weren’t always kicked out of the church. There was a time when they were seen as a healthy part of the religious community. They were the courageous ones willing to leave the comforts of accepted and established theology.
The warrior’s journey is one in which someone leaves. They travel into the wilderness to find themselves. They encounter trials and tests. Then, they return home with a gift. This gift is a broader perspective, a paradigm shift, or a refreshing idea for the community.
While I’m thankful for my own warrior journeys over the years, I’m learning to be thankful for other’s journeys as well. I’ve watched friends leave faith and return back to it. I’ve witnessed other’s get offended and despise me and year’s later apologize. And each time, they bring with them a gift into my life. I have been made rich in reconciliation.
Lately, I’m catching myself anytime I’m reading a post and I find myself getting angry or defensive. I’m learning how to take a step back and ask why this is upsetting me. When I do, I sometimes uncover some surprising things. For instance, it could be I’m afraid I could be just like the person writing the post. It could be they are a little right and I don’t want to admit it. It could just be my soul stirring within me toward justice. Regardless, it’s important for these triggers to become my teachers.
This is one of the things I like most about Jesus. He seemed unthreatened by other ideas and questions. He walked through this world with such a quiet confidence in who he was and what he was supposed to do. I admire this quality in him. I think that’s one of the reasons people gathered around him. Jesus never once rejected someone with a sincere question or different opinion. Instead, he encouraged dialogue, curiosity, and process.
3. Loyal Opposition.
What I like about the British Parliament is their passion for dissenting voices. They love a good argument. If a bill or idea cannot withstand others poking holes in it, then it’s not worth much. Politics in our country used to be more this way as well. Republicans and Democrats could vehemently argue with each other over a bill and then find themselves at the pub later that night having some pints and a good laugh.
Today, we take things too personally. Intellectual maturity means we are able to differentiate between the individual and the idea. When I follow others with opposing opinions from me, it becomes an opportunity for me to find out if my ideas have any weight. When I unfollow people and only interact with those who agree with me, I’m actually robbing myself of a loyal opposition (even when they’re not that loyal). We all need these checks and balances in our lives. I don’t want my ideas about God or life to merely survive in a vacuum. I want my ideas to be tested and tried because I could be wrong.
A Final Prayer.
I’ve learned no one’s impressed by how I can get along with those just like me. That’s probably why the church is so unimpressive right now. However, what this world is desperate for are those who can show a charity within disagreement, a whimsy in debate, and a curiosity with opposition. We are longing for unity, not uniformity. After all, peace is not the absence of conflict but a determination for reconciliation.
No wonder Jesus prayed for us a lot. We needed it.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. -John 17:20,21