How To Love Someone With Whom You Disagree

I grew up in Mayberry. I was raised in a time and place where most people believed in God, were proud of their country, knew right from wrong, valued hard work, and forged strong bonds between neighbors.

 

The older I got, the more I became aware of differences. Differences in background. Differences in lifestyle, in experiences, beliefs, worldview and just about everything else in between.

 

When I got to college, campus life at a secular university was about as diverse as you could get. Many classmates openly dismissed God, denounced any form of truth, and ridiculed traditional spiritual beliefs as childish, banal. A crutch, they said.

 

Christians find themselves in a similar environment today. Parents awaken one day to discover their children have left the faith, wandered away from God. Communities that were once grounded in faith have had the foundation of common values dismantled before their eyes. The neighbors and friends we thought shared our beliefs and values as it turns out, share very little except the tide of secularism and unfeigned ridicule for anything that does not abide by the theology of political correctness.

 

Many in the Christian community have lost hope and along the way become themselves cynical and defensive. In our efforts to defend our faith, we display anything but the faith we claim has transformed our lives.

 

I hear people routinely ask, “How do I love my child who is not living according to the faith?” “How do I stand up for my faith in the face of ridicule from my co-workers, neighbors, or friends?”

 

As Christians, how do we navigate the relationships in our lives? How do we build healthy relationships with people who may be different from us? In short, how do we love someone with whom we disagree?

 

I’ve found eight principles that will allow us to love others well, even in the midst of our differences.

 

1. Hold unwaveringly to your faith.

In Mark 12:30 (NIV) Jesus said the greatest commandment is to, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. We don’t have to apologize for our faith. Our first commandment is not to honor our feelings, our friends, or even the pressure of a rainbow or hashtag on social media. Our first commandment as a Christ follower is to be passionately devoted to Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

 

Study the Word. Invest in your relationship with God. Know your identity as a Christ-follower. Seek to know and grow in truth. Cultivate beliefs and values consistent with your faith and live them out daily, even when it is uncomfortable or unpopular.

 

2. Respect others.

Respect simply means we show others consideration, esteem, deference. Respect is not offered as a reward for respect shown to us. We respect others because that is who we are. We should be the model for transformed lives. I Peter 2:17 encourages us to, Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. The second commandment from Mark 12:31(NIV) says that we are to, love our neighbor as our self.

 

Be with your neighbor. Don’t isolate from them. Consider them. Help them. Respect them. Love them.

 

 

 

3. Listen.

Don’t listen to determine if you agree or disagree. Don’t listen to prepare your response. Listen to get to know another —their life, their story. Discover an inner landscape that is different from your own, and enjoy the journey.

 

Listening is an opportunity for us to learn. In understanding something new or different about someone else, we usually open a door of understanding within ourselves. James 1:19 (NIV) says, My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

 

4. Be humble.

Phillipians 2:6-8 (NIV) describes how Jesus came to earth, saying, Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

 

If Jesus, being by nature God, humbled Himself, how much more should we walk, talk and live out our faith in humility? This does not mean that we shrink back, nor does it mean that we live weak, ineffective lives borne from a weak, ineffective faith.   It means that because of the sizable God we have and the strength we have through Him as His children, we choose not to be prideful or arrogant, we remember the brokenness that binds us together within the fellowship of humanity.

 

5. Encourage others.

Validate them. Build them up rather than tear them down. You may disagree with them on certain issues. Find something you like about them and share that with them. If we focus solely on what we don’t like or agree with, we can never be present with them, we can never show them the kindness, respect, or love God desires us to show, and they will feel our condemnation, whether it is ever verbalized or not.

 

Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life…all of our life.[1] ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

6. Stop trying to win a debate.

Focus on the relationship. Relinquish your need to control, to be right, to win. At the end of the day, God is still God. He is still on the throne. He is the one who draws hearts to Him.

 

2 Chronicles 20:6 (NIV) says, Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Be ready to give an answer for why you believe what you believe, but its not your battle to win – the battle has already been won.

 

7. Be compassionate.

People usually arrived at their beliefs or lifestyle honestly. Judgment and condemnation do nothing to show people God’s love or draw them into the kingdom. Even though others judge us, speak unkindly or mock us, we do not need to lash back.

 

Offering compassion allows us to lean in and experience their humanity, to build community with them. They, too, were created in the image of God. Pray for them. Walk with them. Show compassion towards them on their journey. Many times we don’t know their battles, we can’t see their pain, we can’t feel their scars.

 

8. Give of yourself, without betraying yourself.

Never sacrifice your faith or betray your beliefs and values just for the sake of love. That is not love. Those who demand you abandon your most deeply held principles to prove your love betray the very essence of love.

 

We can love those who are lost. We can show them both compassion as well as truth. We can learn to draw healthy boundaries to our love that allows us to preserve our identity, and our core principles while creating a safe space where we can enjoy being in relationship with others.

 

Isn’t that how Jesus engaged others? He never diminished or ignored sin. He never twisted a lie to become the truth, but he was fully present with others, even others with whom He disagreed. He never tried to win a debate. He owned the truth, He was the Truth. He simply shared the Truth of God’s love, He lived out His faith, and He lovingly and compassionately spoke the truth to others.

 

In a world that is becoming increasingly polarized, intolerant, hateful, and extreme, it is vital that we step outside of the culture of hate and condemnation, and develop relationships that will honor ourselves and others, that will offer an environment of mutual safety and respect so that all of our relationships can flourish.

 

How do you love those with whom you disagree? Are there areas where you have struggled? How would you like to love others differently?

 

[1] Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World (New York, NY: Crossroads Publishing Company, 2002).

Photo courtesy of Patrick Berger.

 

38 Comments

  1. Lisa, what good advice and so timely. “Never sacrifice your faith or betray your beliefs and values just for the sake of love. That is not love. ” Amen to that.
    Hugs to you!
    Christy

    • lisamurray

      August 4, 2015 at 9:34 AM

      Christy,I’m glad you found this post helpful. Many of us have fallen into the trap of thinking if we love someone, we must accept and embrace their beliefs and choices in order to be with them, and in the process we abandon our own. Health is being able to hold on to our beliefs and values while being close to those who may be different from us. Blessings today, friend!

  2. Such great principles to cling to, Lisa. I really like #8 – being willing to love others, but still hold fast to that which we value and hold dear. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and wise words. #testimonytuesday

    • lisamurray

      August 5, 2015 at 7:34 AM

      Tiffany,
      Thank you for stopping by today! Loving others doesn’t mean sacrificing ourselves. I think that is where many have gotten off track. I can hold onto my identity, my beliefs and values while at the same time loving others, even those with whom I disagree – that is the essence of health and love and peace! Blessings to you!

  3. Lisa, I love the wisdom in your words: “We should be the model for transformed lives.” We do this by first loving God and seeking Him in His Word. Then as an outpouring of His truth in us we can be moved with compassion and see the person before us in His eyes. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your heart at #IntentionalTuesday on Intentionally Pursuing. : )

    • lisamurray

      August 5, 2015 at 7:36 AM

      Crystal,
      Always love your encouragement! Yes, we should be the model for transformed lives. Why are we surprised when others who haven’t experienced Christ act like they haven’t experienced Christ? His work in us is what should allow us to see others and love others the Christ does. Blessings always!

  4. I hate debating with people just to make a point. It seems to go on and on with no solution. I love the steps you’ve laid out. I think it’s important to disagree from a heart of compassion, not stubbornness. Visiting you from #RaRaLinkup!

    • lisamurray

      August 5, 2015 at 7:38 AM

      Thank you Samantha. Isn’t is compassion that makes all the difference? I can disagree with someone in a spirit of bitterness and condescension or I can remember my own brokenness and offer love and compassion instead. Blessings to you!

  5. Really good, well thought-out points on this. Such a practical topic as we all have people in our lives that disagree with our faith. How we navigate these relationships is so very important. I particularly like, “Give of yourself without betraying yourself.” Linking with you at Testimony Tuesday.

    • lisamurray

      August 6, 2015 at 7:19 AM

      Thank you Ginger, for your encouraging words! I think we all have challenging relationships and knowing how to navigate them can be a struggle. Blessings always!

  6. I love this post! I think the idea of listening with the intent to understand and not to “prepare your response” as you said is a great skill. It definitely takes practice and a reminder to ourselves to stay in the moment. Developing empathy is also crucial to deep love. Thank you for this thoughtful article. I found it through Intentional Tuesday Linkup.

    • lisamurray

      August 6, 2015 at 7:21 AM

      Angela,
      So glad you enjoyed this post! Most of us listen only to prepare our response, yet doing so eliminates any chance of being present with, of having empathy for someone else. Listening compassionately may be the most loving gift we can offer! Blessings today!

  7. I love the ideas you put forth in this post!!! I really want my readers to know about this too! I want to share this in my weekly series called “Roll Out The Red Carpet Thursday” – I share bloggers’ amazing posts that I’ve found during the week. I hope that’ ok! Have a great night!

  8. After going to college at a secular school, I definitely learned to not argue for the sake of winning the argument. Most unsaved people just like to argue to get the Christian all fired up! Its not worth it and doesn’t bring that person any closer to knowing God’s love. Great post!

    • lisamurray

      August 6, 2015 at 7:57 AM

      You are so right, Anastasia, arguing is not worth it and it doesn’t bring people any closer to knowing God! Thanks for stopping by and blessings!

  9. Hey Lisa,

    What a great post – especially in light of the unique place we find ourselves in 2015!

    I like this line, “Don’t listen to prepare your response. Listen to get to know another —their life, their story. Discover an inner landscape that is different from your own, and enjoy the journey.”

    I had coffee with an old friend this week. Some of the things she shared were kind of “off,” but I didn’t feel like it was my job to correct her. She just needed a friend to listen to her and love her.

    It does seem like we, in the church, have turned into a bunch of teacher’s “red pens.” Love the grace I read in your post today~

    Thanks for sharing.
    Came over on Faith Filled Friday.
    Blessings,
    Melanie

    • lisamurray

      August 8, 2015 at 7:45 AM

      Melanie,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! It can be hard to listen not correct or defend. But we miss something in the process. We miss actually being with and connecting with another human and hearing their story. Thanks for stopping by! Blessings!

  10. I think #6 is so key. so often we try to validate our own position by showing the other person where they are wrong. But someone who is battered into changing their opinion doesn’t actually alter their outlook. the old saying goes “someone convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.” We need to present the truth… and most essentially… LIVE the truth, but not feel like it’s our job to make them believe. Trust that job to the Holy Spirit! thanks for the good culturally-relevant thoughts!

    • lisamurray

      August 8, 2015 at 7:47 AM

      Karen,
      You are so right! THE most important thing is living the truth! I don’t get it right all the time, but my focus is on me being who God wants and has called me to be. I simply have to leave the rest to God! Blessings to you!

  11. I don’t find it hard to love most people with whom I disagree, but there are a few who can get mean about it, and those are the ones that I need to place strong boundaries around. I struggled with this very issue this week, and wanted to respond in a loving way- ultimately deciding that I would no longer choose to communicate with that person over Facebook or e-mail. I will still respect that person and talk to him, but I needed that boundary. Thank you for writing this. Linking up from grace and truth.

    • lisamurray

      August 8, 2015 at 7:49 AM

      Dawn,
      Beautiful testimony of giving of yourself without betraying yourself. Too many feel that in order to love, they cannot have boundaries, they cannot hold onto their beliefs and values. Nothing could be further from the truth! Blessings to you!

  12. Focusing on the Lord and loving people is all that counts. I gotta keep my heart turning in the right direction to and for Him. All that counts between here and heaven. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Great post! Such helpful real-world strategies…many blessings to you!

  14. Visiting next door from #weekendbrew. So glad I did. I have to admit I was a bit afraid to read your post as I didn’t want to hear another ‘us vs. them’ perspective on how to live with those who differ. Your post is beautiful and inspiring, the scriptures you profile warm my heart, instruct me in the way I should go, open me to living in the world but not being of it. I was one of those secular folks once who didn’t know Christ, and it was the welcoming Christians who led me to Christ, who gave without the need to convert or condemn. Because of these Christians I saw Christ in action. However, now that I’m in the position to do the same for others, I find so many think Christians are hypocrites, condemning etc. However, by following the way you describe, I do notice interest, relief, hope, yearning,desire for the truth. Thank you for your wonderful post!

    • lisamurray

      August 10, 2015 at 8:04 AM

      Kathy,
      Thank you for your encouraging words! I think the last thing we all need is another us vs. them diatribe. What we need most is to step outside the battle, and see the battle for what it really is – a battle for souls! And nothing will bring others to Christ that is filled with hate and condemnation. Let’s show them love and grace and truth from transformed lives! Blessings to you!

  15. Lisa, such wonderful advice. Your neighbor at the weekend brew. We do need to listen and walk with Jesus. Blessings Diana

  16. Lisa, thanks for always sharing your encouraging and helpful posts in Words of Comfort Link Up!!

    Blessings,
    Tayrina

  17. such a good post.

  18. Whenever I think about this, I think about how Jesus acted with people He didn’t agree with. He didn’t yell at them, He didn’t try to win an argument for the sake of winning, He didn’t judge them — He LOVED them. Great post Lisa!

    • lisamurray

      August 12, 2015 at 1:59 PM

      Lauren,
      You are so right! Jesus was the model for dealing with others. He never judged, never hated, he was the very essence and fragrance of LOVE and TRUTH! Blessings today, friend!

  19. I appreciate your thoughts here! One of my favorite mantras when it comes to relationships is: “We’re all just people.” We ought not expect perfection from each other, and remembering how lavishly I’ve received grace compels me to extend it to others just as freely. Thanks for linking with us at Grace & Truth!

    • lisamurray

      August 13, 2015 at 8:18 AM

      Jennifer,
      Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes, we are just people! We should be ready to extend the grace we have so lavishly received! Blessings to you today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

© 2019 Lisa Murray

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑