January 23, 2009
AGREEING ABOUT DISAGREEMENTS, PART ONE
by Charles R. Swindoll
As much as we may pursue peace, and as positive and tactful as we may be, there will still be occasions when disagreements arise. As one wag put it, "Life ain't no exact science," which brings me to the first two of four facts with which everyone (well, most of us) would agree. I will share the second two facts tomorrow.
Disagreements are inevitable. Throughout this book, I have emphasized the value of variety and the importance of individuality. The downside of that is it leaves the door open for differing opinions. I say downside only because those inevitable differences can lead to strong disagreements. There will be opposing viewpoints and a variety of perspectives on most subjects. Tastes differ as well as preferences. That is why they make vanilla and chocolate and strawberry ice cream, why they build Fords and Chevys, Chryslers and Cadillacs, Hondas and Toyotas. That is why our nation has room for Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals---and moderates. The tension is built into our system. It is what freedom is all about, including religious freedom. I am fairly firm in my theological convictions, but that doesn't mean you (or anyone) must agree with me. All this explains why I place so much importance on leaving "wobble room" in our relationships. One's theological persuasion may not bend, but one's involvements with others must. Leaders are especially in need of leaving "wobble room" if they hope to relieve steam from inevitable tensions.
Even the godly will sometimes disagree. When I was younger I had difficulty with this one. I couldn't understand how two people who loved the Lord with equal passion and who believed the Bible with equal zeal could come to different conclusions. In my two-by-four mind I was convinced that all godly minds held to identical conclusions. Not so! To my amazement, I soon discovered that there were not only various opinions on the same subject, but that God had the audacity to bless those who disagreed with me. I believe it was Dr. Bob Cook, while he was president of The King's College, who wisely said, "God reserves the right to use people who disagree with me." I'll go one step further, for I am now convinced that God is not nearly so narrow as many of His people are. I find that God is much easier to live with than most of His followers . . . far more tolerant, certainly full of more grace and forgiveness than all of us are.
Unlike us, when He forgives, He forgets the transgression and removes it as far as east is from west. Perhaps you have heard of the man who loved the Lord, but he couldn't seem to conquer a particular sin. Time and again through the week he would come before the Lord and confess the same transgression. In all sincerity, he would tell God how much he hated what he had done and how grateful he was for God's grace in forgiving him. Wouldn't you know it, by Saturday of that same struggling week he was back on his knees: "Here I come again, Lord, with the same sin . . . asking Your forgiveness and claiming Your cleansing." To his surprise, he heard God's audible answer: "What sin?"
There will be no denominations in heaven, no categories of Christians---only the vast company of the saints, and only then will there be perfect harmony of heart and complete unanimity of agreement. Until then, count on it, even the godly will disagree.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.