How to Love People Who are Wrong
Have you ever had someone post something on social media that made you so angry you wanted to scream? We have probably never heard so many opinions we disagree with as we do right now in earth's history. For better and for worse, the modern world gives us all a platform to promote our ideas. When you strongly disagree with someone you don't know well, it is fairly easy to move on with your life. But what do you do when you disagree with someone closer to home? Parents, spouse, children, or friends? In all those cases, we really want to get along but dealing with their "wrong" opinions can be really difficult. So what do we do?
Jesus points the way forward in this beautiful statement in John 13:34-35: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The task Jesus gives us here is so difficult that it proves that we are his disciples if we do it. However, Jesus only said to love, but I'm adding that we need to learn to love people we disagree with. Why? Because those are the only people we can love. We all disagree about something. In the image above, we find the way forward that Jesus directs us to. It is the way of love. We need to recognize that in every interaction with another person, we are dealing with content and relationship. If we focus only on the content, things will not go well. The stronger our disagreement, the more likely that content is a barrier to the relationship.
Thankfully, we don't have to get stuck on the content. We can focus on the relationship instead. We can choose to love the person behind the content. We can look past the content and see the person. We can disagree with the content and still care for the person who believes it. We can build up the relationship first, and deal with the content as a secondary issue. This is the only approach that will allow us to love people that we believe are wrong. It isn't easy. It won't come naturally. But when we stay connected to Jesus, the source of love, we will find that we are capable of this mature approach to relationships. And it will improve all of our relationships. Imagine what the world would be like if we all lived this way!
I invite you to try it for yourself. Think right now about an important relationship in your life where you have disagreement about content. Ask God for the humility and grace to see the person behind the content. Focus now on loving that person. Make that your priority. Then you will know what to do about the content.
May you love people you disagree with this week.