Do you find it hard to love people you disagree with? We all have people who drive us crazy with their political beliefs and unpopular opinions - but how do we go about loving them anyway? As part of our Avoiding Election Infection series, we're learning how to put on our faith filter FIRST in a polarizing political culture. To help you choose to love your political opponents anyway, today we're walking through 4 practical ways to love people you disagree with.
#1) SLOW TO SPEAK, QUICK TO LISTEN
In order to love those we disagree with, we need to start with listening well. Did you ever wonder why God gave you two ears and one mouth? We should be listening twice as much as we're speaking. Listening to who? People with different perspectives. As a global Christian, you must move outside of your echo chamber on social media if you want to understand why people think the way they do. The truth is, where you stand depends on where you sit. This means that your views and values (where you take a stand) are often shaped by where you sit. Where you sit often depends on many factors you can't control, such as what you've been taught, what you've seen, experienced, or seen others experience. Remember: Everyone's political opinion makes sense to them - but it may not make sense to you because you do not share their background or experience. So, lean in and listen to learn different perspectives.
#2) BE CURIOUS, NOT A CRITIC
When in a political conversation, it's only a matter of time before a divisive topic comes up. Instead of getting critical, get curious! Ask, "What led you to that view?" When conversing with someone you disagree with, take a posture of humility and seek to learn. The reality is, most political issues are not problems to be solved, but rather tensions to be managed. Since these issues are often complex and nuanced, show people you disagree with that you're willing to dive deeper in understanding.
#3) AVOID ARGUMENTS
The next way to love people you disagree with is to avoid arguments - and for those of you who like to debate, this is critical. Understand this: There is a relational cost when you turn casual conversation into a heated debate. You can win the argument, but damage the relationship. Do you want to be RIGHT, or do you want to be in RELATIONSHIP? When you feel your blood start to boil, remember that you have a choice.
#4) STEP OVER OFFENSE
Last but certainly not least, when learning how to love those who disagree with you, you'll need to learn how to step over offenses. Proverbs 19:11 tells us "A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense."
While the world we live in calls for an "eye for an eye" mentality, Jesus calls us to show strength by turning the other cheek. Never burn a relational bridge to score a political point! The person on the other side of you is more precious to God than your politically temporary view. Jesus sacrificed everything to restore our relationship with God - therefore, we need to be able to love and forgive one another just as Christ forgave us. So, to love like Jesus, you'll need to step over sin. This doesn't mean sticking around to act as a punching bag if you're being attacked - but you can step over sin and graciously withdraw from the conversation.
We pray these 4 ways to love people you disagree with will help you to navigate all your relationships during the election season - so that your relationships with God, your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors are made even stronger despite your differences. To learn more from Part 2 of Liquid Church's Avoiding Election Infection series, watch the messages at this link.