Jesus gave His followers some very difficult instructions—at least, we seem to make them difficult. Sadly, one of the most difficult seems to be this one: Love One Another.
This commandment is truly that: a commandment. It’s not just a good suggestion. When the world sees those who proclaim faith in Christ at each other’s throats, we undermine the Gospel message. Sadly, history shows Christians (or at least those claiming to be Christians) persecuting and even killing one another.
In my earlier days, as I studied theology, I came to a decided perspective that I continue to believe is true: free will/Arminian/Wesleyan. Then I spent too much time concentrating on those who had a Reformed view, attempting to show them their errors. While I do think Christians should be able to debate these things openly and honestly with respect for one another, all too often those “debates” degenerate into name-calling. I don’t want any part of that.
In my career (I actually prefer the word “ministry”) as a history professor at Christian colleges and universities, I’ve worked with those who don’t agree with me on certain matters of doctrine, but I’ve been able to work with them without rancor. I respect their genuine faith and, I trust, they respect mine. I also promise not to gloat in heaven when they find out I was right after all.
Just kidding. We all will have some surprises, I think. But when we are in the presence of God, we won’t mind having been wrong in some of our views. If our hearts are truly His, that’s what really matters.
Then there are the disagreements Christians can have over politics, which are coming to a head in our day. I’m not going to say that all who call themselves Christians and support policies that I believe are anti-biblical are not genuine Christians. Sometimes, people are just misinformed or don’t understand government. Socialism, in my view, is anti-Christian and should never be advocated. Yet I won’t simply disown everyone who comes down on that side. Rather, I’ll try to present a consistent worldview that reveals the pitfalls in that belief.
That divide has been present for some time. What’s new is the divide between conservative Christians over the presidency of Donald Trump.
Readers of this blog know of my deep concerns over Christians fawning over Trump, sometimes even claiming that he’s a real Christian, despite all the evidence to the contrary. I do my best to offer a reasoned, Biblical response to Trump and his presidency. I find myself in the minority among my fellow conservative Christians. So what should I do?
The answer remains what Jesus told us in John 13. I must make the commitment in my heart to love my fellow believers even when I disagree with them. I must never allow my words or actions to demean them personally in any way. We have a disagreement, to be sure, and I will always be clear about what I believe and why, but the greater cause for which we all live is to draw others to the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I just wanted to take the opportunity today to declare publicly what I consider to be most important.
By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.