In my previous blog, I referred to the old phrase: “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity.” We talked about what are the essentials for Christians, as well as what the non-essentials might be.
And then I mentioned “Charity.” What is Charity? To review, charity is the old term for love. Here is where we get the command to love one another as he has loved us. It does not say love one another if they agree with you. Or if they look like you. Or if they have the same religion!
As Christians, we are called to love one another, but also to love our neighbor. Sometimes it is clear we are to love fellow believers. But Jesus made it clear in his parable that we often call the “Good Samaritan,” that we are to love others, even if they are different from us.
If you look carefully at this story found in Luke 10:25-37, there are some points to note:
- The scribe asking the questions assumed two things:
- That being a part of the “kingdom of God” meant being Jewish (both ethnically and in obedience to the Law);
- That loving our neighbor meant loving our fellow people of God.
- Jesus did not tell where the stranger was from.
- The “good guys” (the priest and the Levite) didn’t do the right thing.
- The “bad guy” did. Why was he the “bad” guy to the “expert in the Law” asking the question? He was a (gasp) despised
- Jesus asks, “who is the neighbor?” but doesn’t give the guy who got beat up as one of the options. Jesus calls us to BE a good neighbor. And he calls us to do this across cultures, to reach out to those who are different from us.
We must look around us. To whom should we be a neighbor? We must look within ourselves and ask, who are we called to be a neighbor to but we find it a challenge? We don’t want to be a neighbor to that person! Who is that? Prayerfully ask God to show you.
That does not mean we have to agree. There is a lot of diversity in this world. A lot. I do not agree with my husband sometimes. (Another gasp!) But I still choose to love him. We all can learn to agree to disagree. (See my blog on agreeing to disagree and a Christian perspective on dealing with differences, part one)
Now, as Christians, where is the line for agreeing to disagree? Go back to the question of essentials. Look for areas of agreement, recognize those things in which we agree, and prayerfully discern what are not essentials that we can chose to disagree and let go of the argument.
That is how we agree to disagree and still respect and love one another with dignity.
 Ross, Mark. “Often attributed to great theologians such as Augustine, it comes from an otherwise undistinguished German Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century, Rupertus Meldenius.” For more information, see this site.
 For more explanation of this parable, see David I. Smith’s Learning from the Stranger: Christian faith and cultural diversity. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.