Discussing Spiritual Differences- Question

It is said that if you want to maintain a friendship you should never discuss religion. We might be able endure differences of opinion in sports and clothing brands, but we won’t tolerate conversations about the things that really matter.

Obviously this timidity to discuss spiritual matters has to do with their inherently sacred nature. We all feel a heightened sensitivity about things which are sacred. These parts are closer to our heart, and therefore a callous word is much more likely to wound our feelings. There is also the tendency to feel judged whenever someone else believes that what we do is a moral wrong.

But I don’t believe the solution should be to cut off communication there. I believe spiritual feelings can be conveyed in a way that is sensitive and loving. I believe that sometimes we need to testify of what we know is right, even if it will be perceived as offensive by the those that we are speaking to. I also believe that there is room to examine one’s intention in how they speak, and room to examine one’s intention in how they listen. With this study I would like to consider exactly those points. How can we share testimony, champion good, and call to repentance in a way that God approves of? How can we hear the opinions of others and receive or reject it as appropriate?

I have already studied a similar topic before, one where I considered how we can remain respectful in our differences of spiritual opinion. But I want to give special attention in this study for those moments where we need to share a spiritual truth that others may fight difficult to hear. I want to focus on both sides of that moment, the giving and the receiving.

In the meantime, I would love to hear about your own experiences in this matter. Have you ever tried to share something out of love, but had it received as if out of hate? Have you ever felt muzzled when trying to champion that which is good? Have you ever felt that you must say what you had to say, no matter how it would be received?

The Family of God- Galatians 3:28-29, Malachi 2:10

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?

COMMENTARY

Have we not all one father? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?
For ye are all one in Christ Jesus
We love to make divisions. For some reason we feel this need to put ourselves as better than others. There are the obvious criteria of segregation: race, religion, sex, and age. Thankfully many of us today have accepted that discriminating on these terms is entirely inappropriate.
That is good, but I don’t think that any of us are still entirely in the clear. If we keep listing out other metrics by which people judge one other, I believe sooner or later each of us will feel a twinge of guilt. You might think less of others because of their education level, or what sort of car they drive, which political party they most frequently vote for, their physical or mental handicaps, their success or their failure, their resting facial expression, their parenting style, which words they use, what clothes they wear, their weight, whether they have clear skin or not, whether they had things handed to them on a silver platter, their choices…we could go on, but I think you get the point.
Somehow we get the notion that some people are “less” children of God than us. To be sure, there are choices people make, and some truly do make poorer ones than others…. But not one bit of that makes a person any less God’s child than another. Your testimony that you are a child of God is important, but it is incomplete until it includes a fervent belief that so is everyone else.

Commandments and Personal Revelation- John 14:15; Hebrews 12:6; Matthew 22:37-39

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

COMMENTARY

If ye love me, keep my commandments.
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.
These scriptures illustrate a beautiful symmetry in the commandments. Why does God give us commandments? Because He loves us. Why do we keep the commandments? Because we love God.
And yet this seems far removed from the way commandments are typically viewed. The world teaches us that commandments are given by a mean and angry God, and that they are followed by us only because we are afraid of His punishments. It is suggested that commandments are restricting, that they prevent the full expression of the self.
Laws of physics are celebrated, mathematical principles are praised, but laws to govern human behavior are always considered suspect. I guess it’s not too surprising, though, we humans have had a very bad track record when it comes to enforcing “correct” behavior. Most attempts to do so quickly turn into cruelty, intimidation, and fear-mongering.
And so the idea of being led by love instead of being driven by a stick might seem unnatural, and I guess given the ways of the world it is unnatural. But I can affirm it is also the truth. Anyone that has felt “chastened” by God knows it is an overwhelmingly loving experience. How did Jesus correct the woman caught in adultery? He saved her life, then told her “neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
The symmetry of love as being the motivation for God giving us commandments and our following them is expanded still further when we realize that the commandments themselves are merely injunctions to love. Love God, love yourself, love others. God does not command us to hate, to steal, or to hurt. He does not command us to condemn or judge. If we respond to those that break the commandments in a way that is other than loving, then we have then broken the commandments also. The beam remains in our eye.