Monday, January 8, 2018

Living in Harmony

"Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited" (Romans 12:16).

Here is a biblical call to seek a unity of belief, concern, and feelings. We see every day how easy it is for us to disagree with each other and to enter into arguments that can tear relationships apart. Paul tells us that we need to learn to seek after places where our minds can come together.

Even when we disagree, we have to have an attitude of charity about that disagreement. No Christian deliberately sets out to distort the meaning of God’s Word. That needs to be kept in our minds when we differ.

Sometimes people go to the opposite extreme and try to suppress all disagreements. It is, however, obvious from his writings that the apostle Paul was very concerned about the specifics of truth and about settling disagreements. Thus, it is important to have good, healthy, positive arguments and discussions about issues that divide Christians. However, we have to avoid an argumentative spirit. In fact, Paul continues by ordering, “Do not be proud.… Do not be conceited.” It is arrogance that creates a contentious spirit and prevents healthy discussion of issues.

As a theologian, I find it easy to appreciate the work of other theologians and to learn from them. I think that such mutual respect is generally true of “white collar” Christians. Paul goes out of his way, though, in verse 16 to tell us to listen to the insights of “blue collar” Christians as well: “Be willing to associate with people of low position,” or “people who do menial work.”

Such people can very well have insights that white collar Christians don’t have. Maybe that other person has eyes to see through my blind spots. Humility means being able to listen to people and being willing to give an honest consideration to what they’re saying. It means being open to the whole body of Christ, the church.

Have you ever held a conviction that led you into an argument with someone else, only to find upon reflection that the other person was right and you were wrong? Such embarrassing events in our lives remind us that no one “has it all.” We very much need one another. Are you able to display the humble spirit of admitting error, and through forgiveness strive for harmony in your relationships?