One of the idiosyncrasies that attracted viewers to the “American Chopper” television series was the prevailing tension that existed among the Teutle family members (Paul Sr., Paul Jr., and Michael). Eventually, this creative tension escalated to gratuitous outbursts of anger, driving emotionally weary viewers away.
Reality TV is seldom “reality.” It is contrived, scripted, and staged by producers seeking to pit people against one other. Staged angry outbursts may be overly dramatized, but they are sadly reflective of the disagreements regularly expressed on social media. From views on politics to attitudes on continued “sheltering in place,” Christians may find themselves issuing demeaning, dismissive statements about the views of fellow believers. Occasionally, we may observe believers claiming the conclusion they have reached will be embraced by all if we would only seek to follow the footsteps of Jesus. Perhaps we have all found ourselves unfollowing or unfriending those we have known for years, due to vastly different opinions.
Perhaps we may mitigate the emotional roller coaster if we:
- Understand our differences.
- God created us with different personality traits. Some people are more prone to take risk, while others prefer safety. From our childhood, this was obvious as some would climb to the highest limb of a tree as a friend stayed safely on the ground.
- The nurturing we received in childhood affects how we act as adults. My parents were regularly asked why they encouraged their son to play every sport imaginable. “Don’t you know he may get hurt?” “Sure, but he will get over it and be tougher for it,” was the response.
- These simple differences (that are too complex to discuss here fully) will affect how we view life as an adult. Some, by nature, seek the greatest possible safety while others are prone to venture further out on the limb. Neither of these opinions are inherently wrong; they are merely different.
- Though God designed His church to be one body, the individual natures of believers were left intact. Paul and Peter were vastly different by nature and nurture. There was never a hint of Scripture that one should mold himself in the image of the other. Surely, we can find the ability today to give a wide berth to differences without dismissing another Christian as being somehow “less,” because their opinion on an issue differs from ours.
- Remember, opinions are no basis for moral judgement.
- On April 29, 2020 an article in The Atlantic bore the headline, “The ‘Terrible Moral Choice’ of Reopening.” It seems to me that this headline is terribly unfortunate. The article goes on to say the choice does not ultimately belong to a government or society, but belongs to individual citizens. However, the headline may lead someone to believe their personal belief is morally superior to that of another.
- Such has been the rhetoric among believers about whether or not a church should meet for service and whether or not someone should be able to go out to dinner yet. Each person is responsible for their own actions, giving others the freedom to live before God based upon their personal conclusion.
- No one should live selfishly. However, as Romans 14:1-10 (NASB) teaches, matters of opinion are no basis upon which we can judge. I regularly find myself repeating, “Who are you to judge the servant of another?….But you, why do you judge your brother?” Perhaps I would do well to make several signs of wisdom for my home, computer, and car.
The pitched battle in which we have found our nation politically can be exhausting, even for one as politically inclined as myself. Yes, there are moral issues upon which we should stand and never waver. However, as much as I find myself politically and fiscally conservative, I must remind myself that these are matters of opinion. The conclusions I have reached seem logical, rational, and “common sensical” to me. Still, I must give room for those who may disagree.
As the nation and world argues the best way to respond to the Coronavirus, we should also give room for those who honestly and thoughtfully disagree. We may verbally joust with vigor. We may seek with all our mental might to convince one another of the error of their ways. We may become animated in exchange. But we are, after all, talking about opinions based upon models and projections.
May we be able to live peacefully in an angry period. My we give room to those who love Jesus as we do, but with whom we disagree on matters of opinion.