In our church we have people who are avid University of Oregon Duck fans, and also totally, over the top, crazy, frothing at the mouth Oregon State Beaver fans. Personally, I am both depending on who I am with. Because we are less than an hours drive from both schools, we have a lot of both Ducks and Beavers in our church. Sometimes from the pulpit I will say half joking, that we have grief counseling available for those die hard Duck or Beaver fans, which ever lost to the other. We have people in our church who believe you can lose your salvation and those who believe that once saved you are always saved. We have those who believe that all of the sign gifts such as healing, speaking in tongues, and others are past, no longer part of the spiritual gifts in the church, and others who passionately believe in them. We have those who believe that Christians will go through the tribulation as described in the book of Revelation, and those who are very sure we will not. And we have those who are very supportive of President Trump, and those who don’t like him at all, to put it mildly. The list of topics that people in our church are on opposite sides of the fence on, is almost endless.
Psalms 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!
Philippians 2:2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Ephesians 4:2-3 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
I regularly and often will say to our church family, God blesses unity in churches, and God’s blessing is everything. The big question is, “can we have unity if we disagree on different things, and my answer is, “yes we can” if we practice certain disciplines, let me suggest 3 basic ones.
(1) Don’t attack people’s character, motives, or intelligence who don’t agree with you. I like to discuss theology, sports, and politics with people who are gracious, and don’t attack me or insult me because I disagree with them. I once said that even though much of his behavior makes me cringe, I still support, defend, and pray for President Trump. I couldn’t hardly believe the volume and the meanness of the attacks I received. I didn’t respond to any of those, but I did have some great conversations with a couple of people who were disciplined in how they talked or wrote to me and others.
(2) Give people the freedom to hold their own opinions without feeling compelled to change their views. A Duck fan is never going to convert to a Beaver fan so I won’t discuss sports with them with the goal of changing their minds. I will enjoy them and I will enjoy the discussion. I know which doctrines are essential for a person to be adopted into God’s family, and I will persuade graciously with those, but with most differences I try to practice gracious tolerance.
(3) If you truly want to change a person’s mind on a view you hold passionately it should be fairly obvious that you won’t do that by calling them names and insulting their character and motives. In order for me to change another persons opinion or belief I must believe that it is in their best interests to do so, and recognize that for me to have success “converting” them I have to maintain our friendship, our relationship in the midst of the differences, and the best way to do that is to honor them.