I Don’t Hate You; I Disagree With You

August 21, 2016 No Comments »
I Don’t Hate You; I Disagree With You

By David Faust

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 3.26.19 PMNoah’s animals aren’t the only things that come in pairs. It takes two scissor blades to cut cloth. God designed our bodies with pairs of eyes, ears, hands, and feet to provide balance and perspective.

Both-And

For Christians, truth and love are both-and, not either-or. Truth and love don’t contradict each other; they complement each other; they work together in harmony. “Love rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). Church members should speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). The same inspired pen that wrote “God is love” and “We love because he first loved us” also emphasized “walking in the truth” and “faithfulness to the truth” (1 John 4:16, 19;
2 John 4-6; 3 John 3, 4).

The apostle Paul called love a continuing debt we owe each other (Romans 13:8); yet in that same letter he voiced stern warnings about sinful behaviors that offend the Lord and harm humanity (Romans 1:21-32). The same Jesus who said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” also said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 13:35, 8:31, 32).

It’s often hard to manage the tension between these two realities, but it doesn’t help if we pursue love while downplaying truth. Nor does anyone benefit if we neglect love and use truth as a brickbat to pound on others.

Love Tells the Truth

There’s far too much hate in this world. Prejudice, angry rhetoric, and judgmental attitudes damage relationships and provide clear evidence that we all have missed the mark. Christians are imperfect people saved by God’s grace. But it isn’t loving to pretend something is right when God calls it wrong. How did we get to a place where any expression of disagreement is equated with hatred?

My wife and I have engaged our Muslim neighbors in earnest discussion about our respective beliefs. Over plates of food and cups of tea, we ask hard questions punctuated by laughter and friendly dialogue. We nod over areas of common agreement and shake our heads in profound dissent. Don’t call me Islamophobic. I love my Muslim friends, but we sincerely disagree on crucial issues like the identity of Jesus, the trustworthiness of the Bible, and the way to eternal life.

And please don’t call me homophobic. I want what is best for every person in the LGBTQ community, but I can’t escape or explain away the Bible’s plain teachings about sexual ethics. Homosexual behavior isn’t the only sin, but it’s a sin. Hypocrisy is a sin too. So are gossip, slander, gluttony, greed, and heterosexual infidelity (even when it’s confined to one’s heart). We should be just as concerned about other sins as we are about the ones constantly in the news. But it doesn’t make anything better if we distort God’s Word to make it fit our personal and cultural preferences.

Just because I disagree with you, please don’t think I hate you. Love and truth go together like scissor blades. God’s gracious love and his clarifying truth are two sides of the same coin. Just ask our Leader, the Living Word, who came from the Father “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

Daily Readings

Aug. 22

M.

1 Timothy 4:11-16

Diligence and Law

Aug. 23

T.

Deuteronomy 11:1-9

Obedience and Law

Aug. 24

W.

Deuteronomy 11:13-21

Choose the Law and Life

Aug. 25

T.

Joshua 22:1-6

Take Care and Live

Aug. 26

F.

1 John 3:4-11

Love and the Law

Aug. 27

S.

Ephesians 3:14-21

Prayer and Love

Aug. 28

S.

Romans 12:1, 2; 13:8-10

Love for Others

 

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