I had it all sorted out in my head. My logical arguments carefully planned out to defeat the ideas of those I disagreed with. But when I asked the Lord if I could share them, I sensed that he said “no”. I have to admit that I struggled with that answer.
Remember the story in 2 Chronicles 20, where King Jehoshaphat is faced with a huge army coming against him. He inquired of the Lord and was informed that this was not his fight. God was going to fight for him, he just had to stand still and see God work. I asked the Lord if he was going to fight for me in this case and I received no clear response. Actually, I felt like the Lord told me that I was asking the wrong question. And the right question? Does God love those that I disagree with?
This is not a new direction of thought for me. I learned a while back to ask the Lord what he thought of someone who upset me. Sometimes my husband does something that I find annoying. I feel like he should know better, since we have been married for nearly fifty years now. Of course there are a lot of things I should know better too, but who’s counting. Anyway, to stop my bad reactions I have learned to ask the Lord what he thinks of my husband. Guess what? Even if Mike has done something I find irritating, the Lord really loves him, and has lots of good things to say about him. I find it very helpful listening to the Lord on those occasions.
What did God think of Paul before he got saved? There he was, when Stephen was martyred, approving of the killing (Acts 8:1). And God loved him. And if you are thinking that was different because he wasn’t yet saved, what about when Paul and Barnabas argued?
Acts 15:39 “They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.”
For sure the Lord brought good out of the disagreement, but no way was it honouring to the Lord to disagree with each other so strongly. Who was in the wrong? Probably both of them. Who did God keep loving? Both of them.
And then there was Peter.
Gal. 2:11 “But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong.” (New Living Translation). When Peter had first arrived in Antioch he had no problem eating with the Gentile believers, but when some other Jewish leaders arrived Peter withdrew and wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. Peter was setting a very bad precedent, and others were following his poor example. This was so wrong that Paul had to publicly confront Peter. Paul does not tell us of the outcome, although I think that it is safe to conclude that Peter took the rebuke to heart, and changed his behaviour. Yet before that happened, what did the Lord think of Peter? I think he loved him unconditionally.
King Solomon was very wise, and he said:
Ecclesiastes 3:1,7 “There is a time for everything … a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
All too often when people are speaking to us, instead of focusing on what they are saying we can be focusing on how we are going to respond to them. In all likelihood, if I shared my arguments with those I disagree with, I would not be properly heard. For now, I will pray for peace rather than fight for it.