Shake the Dust Off
I am not going out on a limb by saying that you probably have some differing opinions from others around you.
Social media has made it just so stinking easy for the world to let others know where we stand on a topic. Any topic, from current events, favorite sports teams, and even which way to put a toilet paper roll on! It doesn’t take long to realize that there are typically two sides to an argument...and sometimes even more than one side! It also doesn’t take long to see how quickly things turn ugly and disrespectful.
This is where we are called to be set apart, my fellow believers. The way we react to someone disagreeing with us is literally under a microscope for other believers and non-believers alike to get a glimpse into the status of our hearts and whether or not we “practice what we preach!”
So I thought it would be a good time to talk about how to stand your ground in a respectful manner while not compromising your convictions!
The Bible has lots to say about this actually...go check out 1 Corinthians 8. It’s short.
In it, Paul addresses food sacrificed to idols. Although we don’t tend to fight about such things anymore, Christians today still find ways to disagree.
What Paul is saying is that it’s not the THING that matters; what matters is that you RESPECT what another person is convinced is right for them while also sticking to what you are convinced is right for you! Romans 14 says this:
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
So, how should Christians with different convictions treat each other? And how should they treat non-Christians?
We are all in different places in our faith journey. Each of us has differing levels of biblical knowledge; experiences in relationships, church, family or friends; weaknesses or temptations--every faith journey is unique. We love Jesus, but all of our approaches to our faith and personal convictions will come from different places--and that’s ok.
What we can all agree on is that we will all always have more to learn, understand and apply about God’s plan for our lives, so we need not knock each other down. (Romans 14:10)
Here are a few positive actions you can take when you encounter someone with different convictions than your own:
Be respectful. Not everyone is at the same place in their faith journey. Don’t look down on someone who is newer or weaker in the faith. Pray for them. And don’t assume you know everything there is to know about God’s plans for the other person. (2 Tim 2:24)
Refuse to be a stumbling block. If someone shares a conviction that you strongly feel is not supported by the Bible, it’s okay to pass along some bible passages that speak to the topic. BUT, then give them time to read, study, ponder, and pray for guidance. Don’t try to talk them into going against their conscience. (Romans 14:13-15)
Don’t stumble. If you are the one with the conviction among those who aren’t convicted in the same way, do not go against your conscience. Remain faithful to God until you come to a good understanding of the biblical stance on the subject. Righteousness is rightness in God. Pursue it! (Proverbs 15:9)
Be open to being wrong. When confronted with a conviction that you don’t share--consider that you could have a misunderstanding. Respectfully ask questions or do some Bible study, pondering and praying or your own. Maybe God placed this person in your life to steer you in a better direction. (Proverbs 19:20-21)
And when no one can agree: (Seems like our world falls in this category, huh?)
If, in the end, you cannot come to an agreement regarding a particular conviction, don’t be a hater. You don’t have to part ways, ghost, or unfriend one another. You don’t have to agree to still show each other love and continue to grow in friendship and knowledge of Christ.
But, if that relationship does cause you to stumble in your own faith, it is ok to set healthy boundaries. It’s ok to walk away respectfully, dignity intact. In fact, I found it fascinating that in three of the Gospels it says this same thing:
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” Matthew 10:14 NIV, (Mark 6:11, Luke 9:5)
You do not have to sacrifice your peace or bend in your convictions simply because another human being feels you are in the wrong. We do not live for the approval of man; we do not live according to the world’s views; we are not here on this earth to please other humans. We are here to glorify God and love others as He first loved us.
If you are genuinely seeking God's truth, His wisdom and direction: you have nothing to fear.
So shake the dust off if you need to and keep standing your ground! We answer to God and God alone at the end of our days.
Do not compromise your eternity to fit in here on earth.
I hope that is helpful in some manner, God definitely laid this on my heart to share as practical application in this ever-changing world we are living in.