How Christian Leaders Can Disagree Without Being Disagreeable
I’m on a blogging sabbatical working on my upcoming book. This is a guest post by Chris Lautsbaugh who lives in South Africa. He serves with Youth With a Mission (YWAM), teaching and training missionaries and church leaders. Together with his wife Lindsey, they lead and steward training programs and ministries in and Cape Town and throughout Africa. Chris blogs at www.NoSuperHeroes.com on grace, leadership, and missions and has published a book, Death of the Modern Superhero:How Grace Breaks our Rules. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.
“The issue is not whether I agree with someone but rather how I treat someone with whom I profoundly disagree. We Christians are called to use the “weapons of grace”, which means treating even our opponents with love and respect.” – Philip Yancey, “Vanishing Grace”
Philip Yancey, in his new book, Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News?, shares a Barna survey regarding the way Christians are viewed. In 1996, 85 percent of Americans who had no religious commitment viewed Christianity favorably. This number has dipped in recent years to a mere 16 percent in 2009.
Yancy offers this question to the church, and even more to us as leaders:
“As one who has drunk deeply of grace, I want to offer it to a world adrift. How can we communicate truly good news to a culture running away from it?”
He also offers this thought:
“Nowadays the principle of tolerance rules above all others, and any religion that claims a corner on the truth is suspect. Combine that with Christians’ reputation for judging other behavior, and no wonder opposition heats up.”
Far too often Christians, especially leaders , are accused of being critical, judgmental, and intolerant.
Somehow in our zeal to stand for truth, our morality, and potentially even our political viewpoints we run over the very people we hope to be reaching.
“We must stand for truth and not compromise”, we argue.
Does love and acceptance put us on a slippery slope?
We must, if we are going to change the perception of Christians, do it one person at a time.
Here are some thoughts which might serve to guide us.
Can we disagree without judging? We’ve gotten to the point where any form of disagreement is labeled judgment and hate. Even amongst friends, we can be accused of judging if we do not share a common viewpoint.
Why is it so hard to say, “I love you but I do not agree with such and such?” We must find greater ways to bridge this gap in love.
Jesus himself walked in grace AND truth, in fact he was the embodiment of them both! (John 1:17 )
When must confront in love, not to be right.
1 Timothy 1:5 tells us, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.”
Paul was never against confrontation, he just wanted it done in a proper way.
The goal of our disagreement must always be growth and restoration.
Paul in 1 Corinthian 5 took a very strong stand with a man (in the church by the way), involved in immorality.
Many believe this very man reappears in 2 Corinthians 2:5-8. This man who had been removed from the church was restored back to it.
We often are good at the act of removing or the confrontation, but not so good at doing it for restoration sake.
I don’t think anyone would have accused Paul or Jesus of compromising their morals or being wishy-washy in their faith. They were the source of all the above principles.
Of course we will disagree with a growing number of people in an increasingly post-Christian culture.
But the question is, “How will we do it?”
I pray we could do it with the “weapons of grace” Yancey speaks of.