Question: How should we treat others who believe differently about the Bible?
Answer: I was inviting a dear lady to church this week when she explained that she attended church and was a member of another denomination. She seemed honestly disappointed and perplexed as to why the different churches just can’t seem to get along. She, of course, felt that she was attending the right church. She asked me the question, “Don’t we all believe the same thing?” Of course I said, “No…not exactly.” And she asked for an example. I gave her one and as you might imagine, we had to agree to disagree.
I get back to my office and find this question as the next one to answer. I wish I had read my answer to this question before I talked to that gal…
We should treat those we disagree with just like those we agree with; we should love them! Love doesn’t mean you have to have the same opinion, it means you must regard them with the same affection God does. Christ died for you and Christ died for them too. You claim to represent God. Do they see the love of God in you?
Be kind. Romans 2:4 tells us that it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. Is it too much to assume that being kind will lead others to repentance as well? Anyone who is committed to their faith will be fervent to propagate it because they know that eternity is at stake. And we certainly must use the Word of God when we give our answer to every man that asks us of our hope within (1 Peter 3:15). But don’t let your actions circumvent the work and power of the Holy Ghost. And remember, we are not called to defend the truth, but to proclaim it (Acts 5:38).
Be respectful. You will never earn the trust or confidence of another until first you earn their respect. You can demonstrate respect by guarding your tongue and taking care not to unnecessarily offend. Unnecessarily is the key word. There are enough doctrinal issues in the Word of God that offend people. You don’t need to create even more by using crude or careless words. Jesus ate with sinners. He reserved terms like “whited sepulchers” for the hypocritical, professional clergy (1 Cor 5:9-11).
And finally, be patient. Patience or longsuffering is an attribute God commands all who call themselves Christian to emulate (Matt 18:21-22). Patience is not something you “have,” it is something you demonstrate.
May I leave you with a warning and a request? Some love their “Baptist” or their “Church” or their “standards” more than they do Jesus. There will be times when you must correct those in error (Rev 3:19). In that case, use the Bible…just be careful not to poison it with your own spirit of anger or frustration. And as for the request, please pray for me to be able to practice what I preach.