What should you do when you disagree with your church, or with the people in your church?
In the previous post, I referred to a podcast that lists three options. 1. Stay, but don’t speak up. 2. Stay and work for change. 3. Leave. If you haven’t read it already, check out the previous post, because there I try to evaluate options 1 and 3. Simply put, I think both 1 and 3 are mostly poor choices. Now in this post I want to attempt an evaluation of option 2, and then propose a new option.
So what about option 2? Stay and work for change. That option I mostly like, and I think it is far better than 1 or 3. But I don’t believe it fully encompasses what Paul is teaching in Galatians 3, which we studied earlier in this five-part blog starting here. Why? Because option number 2 presumes that something is broken and the person who disagrees has the right answer to fix what is broken, and they must tirelessly work to change it, because everyone else is wrong and they are right.
First of all, there is a potential arrogance in that kind of thinking. Note that I say, “potential.” It could be that the disagreeing person is right, and those they disagree with are wrong. Even if so, the disagreeing person should take great pains to avoid arrogance and pride in how they interact. Even when we are convinced we are right, we should still hold out the possibility that we could be wrong, that we could still learn from the situation, that maybe we don’t have it all figured out.
Additionally, have you ever tried to change a church? If the change you are looking for doesn’t come quickly, or you don’t feel you are being taken seriously, it gets old fast. How long to you keep up the fight, and do so with grace and love and peace and joy and all the other fruits of the Spirit? It can get old, and what often happens is that people jump ship anyway. My conclusion is that option #2, to stay and work for change, is mostly right, but it is often difficult.
I would propose an option #4, an option that the people in the podcast didn’t talk about, an option that I think is more faithful to what Paul talks about here in Galatians 3. Paul’s vision is for a church family of many different kinds of people that can be together, not having to agree about everything, even disagreeing about seemingly important things, all the while remaining in loving relationship with one another. How is my option #4 different from #2? Maybe it could be said that my option #4 is a variation of #2, in that it puts love, agreement and unity at the focus, rather than working for change.
Church, we are one in Christ. When it comes to red and blue, be a church family that focuses on being Kingdom-minded. The Kingdom does not fit into an American political party. So, we Christians are purple. We can be red-leaning people who love blue-leaning people. We can be blue-leaning people who love red-leaning people. We can talk about why we are red-leaning or blue-leaning, and we can disagree with one another, but we do so in a gracious, loving way that keeps Christ as our center. Red and blue will pass away. Purple will pass away, because God’s Kingdom is not based on or fits within any American political party. But the Kingdom of Jesus will remain.
My message to my own congregation, Faith Church, is that while we do not do this perfectly, I think we do it well. Over the years, in many conversations with the church family, I’ve discovered that there is a wide range of views on all sorts of topics. I suspect that your church family is very similar. Though that could be the perfect storm for divisiveness, I urge you keep working at a loving willingness to agree to disagree. Grow even deeper at letting Christ be your common focus. We are all clothed with Christ, as Paul wrote in Galatians 2:26-28, and that clothing is what we should see. We should not be make red or blue clothing our banner. The idea that a church isn’t conservative enough or progressive enough, so a person has to leave it, is opposed to the unity that God desires for his people. Let the peace of Christ rule. Be Kingdom-minded. Sort all ideas and values through the values of the Kingdom, not through any one political party. Continue to love each other. Continue to worship together. Keep working towards bringing more of heaven here to earth side by side with those who may see things from a different perspective. Let’s keep being purple!