Do We All Have to Agree?

In John’s gospel, Jesus says, “…so that they may be one, as we are one.” What does it mean for Christians to be “one”? Does it mean we all have to agree on everything? That would make for a pretty dull life together. And, truly, it’s not going to happen. Even within any given congregation you can find a range of viewpoints on any subject. The election season highlights this reality even if people never talk about politics at church. It’s a fair bet that most congregations have people from both parties, even if one is dominant.

As pastoral leaders, we can get anxious when people disagree with us, whether it’s about the direction the church should take, social issues of the day, or how we spend our time in ministry. Our anxiety may come from our family experience of differences. One of my friends says her family attitude was: “You’re stupid if you don’t agree.” How did your family deal with disagreement?

When we can get more neutral about the disagreement, we’ll find it easier to lead. It’s not personal (even if people frame it personally). Maintaining relationships even when there are strong differences of opinion is a sign of maturity. Perhaps that’s something like what Jesus meant by being “one.”

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