9 min
By: Genriel Santiago

Journey Together: How can I walk with someone I disagree with?

Each of us grew up with different backgrounds, and we value different things because of that. That’s why we reach a point when we may have a major disagreement with someone, whether in church or in our other relationships. What if it’s a person you’re walking with? What can you do?

When you open social media right now, you’ll be debilitated by the chaotic rambles of people taking sides in different areas of life. From political biases to the GOAT K-pop group to the next NBA champion to the topic of “Is kissing before marriage a sin?”

Disagreement and debates are everywhere these days. People in and out of social media have different opinions and viewpoints. Hence, it is normal to have disagreements even with people in church. But because we find it hard to settle our differences, disunity arises, disagreement turns into discrimination of beliefs, people are taking sides, and we resort to tribalism.

We often see this when disagreement turns into quarrels that lead to accusations and discrimination. Some debates end up with resolutions, but sadly, most of what we find in and out of social media are broken friendships and relationships due to unresolved or mishandled debates and arguments.

With all these, we can’t help but wonder, how can we walk with someone we disagree with?

1. Embrace disagreements.

The church throughout history have had various disagreements. Take, for example, the council at Jerusalem.

While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch of Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised as required by the law of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Paul and Barnabas disagreed with them, arguing vehemently. Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, accompanied by some local believers, to talk to the apostles and elders about this question.

Acts 15:1–2 (NLT)

Disagreement doesn’t automatically mean disunity. We can have a healthy disagreement, even to the point of arguing vehemently, and still be in unity with one another.

We have to accept the fact that God designed each of us in unique ways. At the same time, we have different backgrounds and experiences. Thus, we have different opinions and perspectives on things. And yet, the truth remains that no matter how different we are, we can still walk in unity.

Disagreements can be daunting, but we can have unity in diversity when we have something greater that unites us. 

2. Seek clarity and maturity.

Disagreement is an opportunity for conversation and learning.

The beauty of disagreement is learning other views that you don’t usually see. It is by opening our eyes to the possibility that perhaps we’re wrong or that we haven’t explored all possibilities and explanations, while lovingly and intentionally explaining our viewpoint to others.

Open disagreement rallies maturity.

So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue . . . Everyone listened quietly as Barnabas and Paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. When they had finished, James stood and said, “Brothers, listen to me. Peter has told you about the time God first visited the Gentiles to take from them a people for himself. And this conversion of Gentiles is exactly what the prophets predicted . . .”

Acts 15:6, 12–15 (NLT)

Disagreements can also be a gateway for clarity.

As Paul and Barnabas argued with the men from Judea, both parties agreed and decided to have clarity on the issue by seeking help from others. As they explained their side, the apostles listened quietly. So, to agree on different opinions and points of view, both have to listen and mutually understand each perspective attentively. The last thing you want to do is defend your personal beliefs and opinions but lose your friends or a family member in the process.

Maturity comes when you decide to solve the issue rather than desire to win the argument.

3. Accept differences with love and forgiveness.

Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Ephesians 4:15–16 (NLT)

Paul was passionate about building unity in the church. As he described the church as Christ’s body, he was reminding us that each body part has a different function and role. The same goes for our different beliefs and views.

Paul continued,

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:31–32 (NLT)

In a disagreement or a debate, you will often end up hurting in the process. Take time to reflect on why you are hurting, and, if you can, try to release forgiveness. As Paul says, get rid of unnecessary bitterness and forgive one another, just as God has forgiven you. And that’s the truth that we all can agree on—the truth of the gospel, our reconciliation with God and with one another.

Reconciliation with people is an essential part of living out the truth of the gospel and can only be sustained in light of God’s grace and love. Although reconciliation may not always happen, it is still possible to love others in light of the gospel from afar. Differences of opinion and viewpoints cannot be resolved without intentionally listening to one another with the perspective of the gospel.

Disagreement can signify maturity, but it is impossible to grow out of that without love. We can only walk with those we disagree with when we first choose and agree to love them, just as God loves us.

The common ground that we can all stand upon is the gospel.

The gospel is not just good news of salvation and reconciliation. The gospel should create in us a kingdom culture. This culture helps us live our lives under one authority, and that authority is King Jesus. The gospel unites us with God, and at the same time, gives us the power to follow and obey Him in loving others.

About the author
Genriel Santiago

Gen is an incoming Campus Missionary from ENC Malolos, and he believes that we are called to endure this life with eternity in mind. He’s a Bible nerd, Helen's dear husband, and a loving father to Judah.

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