I love the bible study group that meets in our home on Monday nights. It’s a time when we really dig deep into challenging thoughts and spiritual concepts. We’ve read through Phillip Yancy’s book, “What’s so Amazing about Grace?” What an amazing book! Last night our study dealt with this difficult concept:
- How do we treat people that we strongly disagree with over moral or spiritual issues? How do you treat people that are living their lives contrary to God’s word?
There are a lot of issues that have ended friendships and divided churches. Issues like…
- instrumental music,
- the Holy Spirit,
- and the list could go on and on.
So, how should we treat people that we greatly differ with? Is the answer in boycotts? Protests? Pickets? Church splits and divisions? Full page ads in the local paper to voice our disgust to the entire world?
It doesn’t require much work to be gracious towards someone you agree with, but it takes lots of grace to continue a relationship with someone you do disagree with. Maybe we should ask ourselves, how did Jesus treat the morally impure? How did Jesus act around those whose lives were contrary to what God wanted? A prostitute, a wealthy exploiter, a Samaritan with several husbands, a woman caught in adultery – all people that Jesus would have had a problem with their lifestyle. Yet all found grace and mercy from Jesus. No wonder Jesus gained the reputation as being a “friend of sinners.” Maybe we can learn a lot about how to treat people we disagree with by watching Jesus in action.
I will continue to stand for what’s taught in God’s word, and I will simply show to others the same grace and show the same mercy that God has shown me. Or as Helmut Thielicke once wrote: “To truly love a person means to see him as God intended him to be.”
The Bible tells us that we’ll be shown the same mercy in judgement that we’ve shown to others while here on earth (James 2:13). So I’ve decided that, if I must err on either being too hard or too merciful on others, I want to stand before God guilty of being too merciful and too gracious.