Keys to being a good friend when you disagree
If you are anything like me you are learning a lot about the opinions and preferences of your friends during these unprecedented times. The war is raging about whether you should wear a mask, observe strict quarantine, attend a protest, or whether you should use the #blacklivesmatter to support your black friends. Do you agree with all your friends and family on these issues? Didn’t think so. We are facing some polarizing issues and it is causing division, criticism, breakups, and breakdowns. The gospel calls us to be peacemakers and to create unity. It’s hard to be a good friend when disagreements threaten your relationships. However, the Bible outlines a few keys to being a good friend even when you disagree.
Be Compassionate. Be Kind.
Compassion means to show kindness and sympathy but it is deeper in the sense it means to co-suffer with someone. Get in the trenches with your friend even when you may not see eye to eye on the topic. How are they struggling? Demonstrate that you want to understand and help alleviate their fear, suffering, or sorrow. An example of this is, I don’t necessarily feel the need to wear a mask everywhere I go. However, I have many friends who prefer I wear a mask even when we meet for a socially distanced coffee. I’d rather wear the mask and see them than exercise my opinion of whether or not the mask is necessary! This is showing compassion and kindness.
“I don’t know.”
Saying those words is one of the hardest things for me to admit. However, the best way to be a good friend when you don’t agree is to listen and be humble enough to let them share the reasons behind their own ideals. Admitting you could lack full understanding opens the door to real honest conversation. Taking a humble approach to polarizing topics might help you learn something you didn’t know.
Biblically, this means to have a sensitive self-controlled spirit. In other words, don’t let your frustration cause you to “lose it.”
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
If you are yelling at your kids, “I’m fine.” They know that you are anything but fine. The same is true of your friends. Sarcasm, tone, and volume indicate whether or not your voice is a gentle answer. The nuances of communication are lost on social media so make sure before you respond to something your friend said to have another “objective” person read it. #snarkycheck
I’m terrible at being patient and so this is something I am growing in through this season. In the case of trying to usher in true racial equality, it is going to be a marathon. It requires patience. I know that so many have been patient with me as I educated myself. Let’s extend the same willingness to wait while others catch up to cross the finish line. After all, winning is sweeter when you do it with friends right?
No one can claim they have never offended anyone. Even people who take a vow of silence have likely offended someone with their misguided glance or facial expression. We must be quick to forgive. Offense is not something God allows. Jesus had every right to be offended and yet he didn’t bring justice, he didn’t immediately bbq the people who were responsible for his crucifixion, he forgave. One of his last requests was for us all to be forgiven.
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” - Jesus on the cross
When our friends disagree with us it’s ok. When they offend us with their comments, political views, or lack of knowledge and understand we can forgive right? Forgiveness paves the way for unity and it isn’t optional. I’m not implying we must accept everything that someone says, but we can forgive when what they say hurts us.
Love One Another.
Calling someone a friend gives them a title that says, “I love you.” Love is an easy word to say and an impossible one to walk out without the help of Jesus.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13
Trying to prove my opinion is right to friends that disagree is not loving. This is pride. Love accepts people where they are and patiently waits. It forgives and erases even the residual pain of an offense. Don’t forgive and never forget. Forgive and ask to be forgetful. When we give grace to our friends we open up doors of unity, hope, and love. Sow love, reap love.
I am exhausted by the hateful comments, stories, and opinions I have seen carelessly shared. However, we have a choice of how we decide to engage. I am staying focused on speaking encouragement over people, asking questions, and being patient with others and myself as we learn how to do life in a new way. How are you being a good friend when you don’t agree with someone? I’d love to hear your story. Please get in touch through the comments below. I promise I actually read them!