Copy of Romans Breakdown - Suffering to Hope 1

Jesus Wants You to Disagree

It does not take much bible study to find out how much God values unity among Christians. We are certainly all expected to love each other and be united in mission. However, it is ridiculous to not understand the difference between unity and uniformity. Disagreeing and living out our faith in different ways has always been a tremendously valuable part of the Christian tradition. In the early days of the ancient Christian church, one of the great disagreements was about what food was holy enough to eat (many husband and wives have similar disagreements today when selecting a restaurant). These disagreements about the holiness of food in the early church were deeply passionate, serious, and emotional. The Apostle Paul, and other early Christian church leaders, tried to teach the early Christians how to continue to be in community with one another in the midst of their disagreements. In Romans 12 Paul writes, “One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” Paul encourages Christians to let their fellow believers disagree, and live out their faith without demonizing, ostracizing, or separating. Paul has his own opinion, but does not demand uniformity and instead chooses a path of what we call ‘tolerance’ today. However, I don’t think disagreements should be tolerated, I think they should be valued.

Years ago, I was hired at a new church and one of my duties was to organize a confirmation class for the young teenagers of the church. If you don’t know, confirmation (among other things) is a class given to young people to teach them about the basic essential tenants of the Christian faith, and to encourage them to take the next step on their Christian journey. I had led this type of program before and I had a pretty good idea of what a good healthy program looked like. The church I was coming into also had a long tradition of a healthy program. This healthy program was led by a volunteer who had been doing a great job for several years. I was brought into the church during the early summer and the next class was scheduled to start in the fall. During the summer I met with the volunteer leader to discuss how we would run this upcoming class together. Naturally, because of superior intellect and totally not arrogance, I wanted to do the class the way I was comfortable. I had never done it the way that he had been doing it, and I ‘persuaded’ him to do it my way.

This amazing volunteer leader respectfully disagreed with me, and voiced those disagreements, but because he was (and is) and awesome Christian, he threw himself in to leading the class the way that I had ‘persuaded’ him to do it. He would often, respectfully, and humbly suggest to me that the other way would be more effective. A few months into the program, participation began to falter, kids were not engaged at the level previous classes had been, and parents complained. Due to my persistence (and totally not arrogance) we stayed the course and managed to limp through the rest of the program and completed the class. When summer rolled around again, and we met to plan for the next upcoming class, this amazing volunteer suggested once again that we change the format. Luckily, I was smart enough to realize that I had made a mistake (but was totally not arrogant) and agreed to try the way that the volunteer leader suggested. The new class began in the fall and was a resounding success. Students and parents were engaged, the Holy Spirit was moving, and all was right with the world.

This is the experience that taught me a valuable lesson I continue to carry with me. I need people in my life who love God, love me, and also disagree with me. Having people in my life who disagree with me makes my life more difficult, but also makes me a better pastor and person. This lesson is something the Christian church once demonstrated to the rest of the world. Paul and the other early Christians found a way to be in a unified and un-uniform community. We showed others how to live with and love people who were different than us. It breaks my heart that as a church universal we seem to have lost this skillset. We isolated ourselves into churches by denomination, class, race, and theological persuasion. Like the rest of the culture, we have pushed away those who disagree. Jesus wants us to live with those who love us, love God, and disagree. If you don’t have people like that in your life, and in your church, find them, love them back, and you will be better for it.

(January 23, 2023 – February 12th, 2023 Pastor Adam will be teaching and preaching on this topic during worship at Connect UMC 10:15 on Sunday mornings. We hope you will join us or worship with us online at

Posted in