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Beliefs & Separation

Have you ever asked someone to agree to disagree?

How difficult is it to actually agree to disagree? I have had such a hard time with this concept in the past. It was maddening not to be able to persuade the other person that my belief was the right one and theirs was the incorrect one.

How could we agree to disagree? That would be tantamount to my saying it is okay for them to believe something I know to be false. How could I agree to that? How could I actually feel that was acceptable?

And yet, don’t we have to let each other have our own beliefs? I know I have already asked a lot of questions in this post, but I am at a place in my life where I feel the questions are more valuable than all the correct answers. Actually I am at a place in my life where I see how not being able to agree to disagree causes more separation, more division between us, than the differing beliefs ever could cause.

I wonder if the difficulty to agree to disagree, to allow someone close to me to have differing beliefs about certain things–important things, like who or what is God, what is the correct religious creed, what is required for eternal salvation–is based on fear. Fear that either they have it wrong or that I have it wrong. And having it wrong has huge implications, doesn’t it? Or does it?

Since I am a Christian I wonder what the Bible has to say about differing beliefs, especially under the New Covenant. There are examples of certain beliefs being forced onto one group of believers and those forcing the beliefs being harshly criticized and corrected for doing that. There are passages which indicate that it is more important to be true to one’s conscience than to have the details all precisely correct. I read these passages and come away with the sense that it is possible to agree to disagree and understand that both parties can be correct, squared with God.

We believe the capacity to love each other beyond differing beliefs is given to us by the Holy Spirit. It is this capacity which allows us to fulfill the Royal Law of Love–to love our neighbor, with all his or her differing beliefs, completely and deeply. After all, I believe that God loves each and every person on this planet and those who have ever lived and walked on the earth, equally and deeply. As a follower of Christ, one who desires to be conformed to the image of Christ, it makes sense to me that I must let separation and division between me and others drop away. I must find a way to agree to disagree and let love flow. To do otherwise seems to inhibit the flow of love.

Can we agree to disagree and learn to move beyond division and separation we allow differing beliefs to create and move into total mad love for each other? I’m not sure it is possible to live in division and separation and also be in complete love with each other. And I’m pretty sure that none of us share the exact same beliefs down to the infinite point.

What do you think? Must we convince others their beliefs must match ours or think that ours must conform to theirs? Let’s mix it up here!

Read more posts by Beth Misner, a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.