Over the years of pastoring my current church I have developed strong ties with most of the churches in my community. In fact, those ties are closer in some ways than with my own denomination.
From certain perspectives, some would say it’s because I’m probably backslidden. ;)
What I have learned over the years is I can develop friendships with other pastors, other believers from other denominations and theological perspectives, and out of that friendship find a way to converse about the things that typically divide us. I begin to hear them. They begin to hear me. And we find respect through the differences.
I also find that when I hang out with people I don’t agree with, I learn. If I want to live in the echo chamber of my “right” thoughts all the time, and only listen to the people I agree with… I will find a very small room. But if I listen to other opinions and thoughts, I am able to grow. I am able to solidify my own beliefs, I am able to learn the character of Christ in compassion, I am able to hear without automatically condemning… I grow in my ability to stretch my own mind.
Too often we want to hunker down in our theological bunkers and lob the occasional political/theological grenade at the other side with a silly Facebook post and think, ‘THERE! TAKE THAT!”
I have grown to hate that avenue. Holding to my own convictions and still listening to others causes me, at times, to “take fire” from people who normally like me… or don’t like me anymore. I haven’t figured that out.
But I have found that when I center in on Christ and insist that all conversation around me center on Christ, we can discuss the “peripheral” issues much better.
Hang out with pastors in your community you don’t agree with. Read theologians you don’t agree with. Hone in on WHY you don’t agree, and don’t start with, “I disagree because that person’s an idiot.” Start smarter. Live larger.
And keep Christ as the center… not your hard and fast doctrinal rules.