Social media interactions can be interesting. On one platform, I had a Christian friend say that I “sure seem to be working hard to purge, cleanse, and set us ‘not quite the good side right-thinking’ Christians straight.” On another platform, my open approach led to an interesting discussion with an individual who holds very different ideas about the world and the spiritual than I do as a Christian.
I’ve also had some family members accuse me that, “I can’t get along with people who don’t agree with me.” The irony is that I spend my life “between worlds.” As a result, of the many people I get along with, very few agree with me. I have a small group of friends from high school that I regularly talk to and text with about all sorts of things including politics. Two of these friends are conservative, one of those quite conservative, and another is somewhat liberal. These are lifelong friends. Additionally, the spiritual views and practices between me and my best friends do not align at all.
The truth is that I do often see things differently. It is not always an easy place to live. I do believe that many Christians do not view certain things correctly. And, I believe in dialogue. I’ve found that many, especially Christians, are often uncomfortable with dialogue. Some just completely avoid disagreement while some enjoy debate and apologetics but don’t care for dialogue. I can relate to that second way of thinking. I used to think that way.
I remember one long conversation with a family member who had changed his religion. The family legend around that conversation has developed a life of its own. But, while the contention in the conversation was not near that of its legend, it was more than it should have been. I was trying to be an apologist, not a dialogue partner. I’ve learned that while I have a responsibility to lovingly speak the truth, it is not my job to convict or persuade. It is my job to dialogue. So, I am not “working hard to purge, cleanse, and set [those] ‘not quite the good side right-thinking’ Christians straight.” But, I do post articles that present a different point of view. A point of view that I think is more in line with scripture. However, I do so without a desire to cleanse only with a desire to introduce people to a different perspective.
A former pastor once called me a contrarian and then quickly added “in the best way possible.” He even introduced me to another pastor who was visiting our church in that way. Webster’s dictionary defines a contrarian as “a person who takes an opposite or different position or attitude from other people.” I like that. But, “the best way possible” part is also really important. I don’t take a different view just for the sake of taking a different view. I do so because I think a different view is more in line with scripture, the heart of God, or just generally more true. There is a big difference between disagreeing just to disagree and standing on conviction, even in the face of opposition. I try for the second. There is a lot of groupthink in our culture. There is a lot of groupthink in the church. There is a lot of groupthink in our families. The call of the disciple is not to follow the crowd but to follow the still small voice.
This essay is from our Anastasis Series where we resurrect articles from the past that are either still relevant today or can be easily updated. This piece was first published on November 3, 2015, and has been lightly edited and updated.