I’ve had an interesting conversation with our kids for the past two weekends. We were talking about Romans 14:13-23 from the Bible. It states, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (NIV).
Our oldest was talking about a rule his college has about drinking (how it’s forbidden even if you are employed there) and it was a lively discussion about whether or not we should be forced to follow rules like that even “off hours.” I was explaining that while the Bible doesn’t say a person cannot drink alcohol, it’s very clear about not being drunk with wine. And how some institutions and places of employment impose rules like that in order not to cause others to stumble that might have a problem with drinking in moderation. Their moderation quickly turns into getting drunk.
We had a great chance to talk about how leaders are called to a higher standard because more people are watching their example and whether or not they agree, their lives are set as an example for those they are leading.
It reminds me of another verse that I think is apropos, especially for this time in our society. Romans 12:18 (NIV): “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This verse is a great one to live by always, but especially now a days.
Both Romans 12 and Romans 14 talk about not being a stumbling block for someone else’s faith and doing your part to live in peace with others. However, living in peace with others does not mean compromising your beliefs. It means choosing to agree to disagree. It means choosing to not talk about certain hot topics. It means listening and having a level-headed discussion with another, actively listening to see where they are coming from and why they believe the way they do. It also, sometimes, unfortunately, might mean that the most loving response is to walk away – temporarily or permanently, depending upon how you’re led by the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes, there are some relationships that are too toxic to continue. But, I would advise making sure you bathe that decision heavily in prayer before you walk away, especially if it’s forever. God wants us to live at peace with everyone. He wants our lives to be a testimony to draw people to Him. And sometimes, rarely, but sometimes, that means the most loving response is to walk away. Most of the time, though, it means actively listening, agreeing to disagree and sometimes agreeing to keep certain topics off limits.
My friend and host of Cheer UP Podcast, of which I’m the co-host, had a great discussion and lots of insight into this very complicated relationship. If you’re interested in listening to Friends and Disagreements, I think you’ll be glad you did.