It’s a new year! And with that comes a time of reflection and change. Reflections on what last year taught us. For me, it was a year of challenges as I discovered my fellow Christians are very diverse in thoughts and opinions (which is great!) but often this can create conflict and tension.
My personal challenge going forward is a change of attitude when being confronted with different worldviews within the Christian worldview. To do this effectively, I will be focusing on our common ground, Jesus!
Jesus, be the center…
Through all the politics, social injustices and privileges I hope we can all agree that Jesus was all about Aroha (love)!
He had the wisdom to know when to be confrontational (Matthew chapter 21, verse 12-17 Jesus cleanses the temple) and when to be gentle (Matthew chapter 1, versed 28, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”).
Jesus was counter cultural for his time with his treatment of women and foreigners. He challenged the religious leaders of the day and spent most of his time with sinners.
Jesus seemed to have a quality that attracted many diverse groups of people to his presence. They came together and created community despite their differences.
Cultivating community takes work. You have to be intentional, loving and genuine. All things that Jesus was during his life and still is. If a community (Christian or otherwise) is going to grow, it needs to be a space that is safe, even for people we disagree with. Conflict and disagreement can be done in a healthy way and can be a great way to challenge and grow ideas. But this must be done with Christ like wisdom and care.
Often times, these discussions can become emotionally damaging and can break down relationships. It takes a lot of intentional care and mutual respect to achieve a productive and challenging conversation. There are helpful tools out there such as author Glenn E. Singleton’s courageous conversations compass.
We as Christians are never going to all agree on every piece of doctrine or policy out there. We need to show each other a little more grace and aroha (love), especially when we disagree.
When in doubt, just ask yourself “what would Jesus do?”.
Chanell Diaz is a member of The Salvation Army in New Zealand. She and her husband Ronald both work as child care workers and Chanell is also a qualified Youth Worker through Praxis. Chanell has a heart for justice and enjoys creating art and writing in her spare time.