Believing differently is also fine
Do you know what really irritates me? When people who believe differently from me makes me feel inferior about the way I believe. As if I’m missing the point through my way of believing, because, actually, their way is the right way. Sometimes I find myself doubting and before I know it, I’m in the middle of a crisis concerning the way I believe.
This is so unnecessary. It’s wrong of people who believe differently to make others feel inferior.
I suspect the same happened in Paul’s time. People who believed that circumcision was still necessary, tried to convince others. They said that if you weren’t circumcised, you did not have a place in God’s heaven and that you would end up in hell. This was the exact opposite of Jesus’ saving, freeing and liberating message. That’s why Paul warned against them: 2 Steer clear of the barking dogs, those religious busybodies, all bark and no bite. All they’re interested in is appearances—knife-happy circumcisers, I call them.
Paul called those guys thieves, which they were, because they wanted to steal the freedom Jesus brought from those who had been saved. They wanted to bind them with legalism again. They wanted to put back the burden that Jesus bore in our place.
I wonder if these spiritual leaders thought that Jesus’ way of life was too easy or too comfortable. Maybe they felt that people had to do something too to earn salvation and a bit of hardship would contribute to that. In that way you might get closer to your room in heaven.
But that’s nonsense, said Paul.
So how do you deal with people (who usually aren’t strangers, but more often people close to you!) who try to convince you to believe and do like they do?
I don’t think we should feel that what we believe in and the way we do things, can never be changed. A friend of mine always says we shouldn’t fall in love with our own definition and understanding of things. We are on a journey and we learn new things every day and may come to new insights that may be completely different from what we believed in the past. That is why we should be open to new convictions. The spirit often works through other believers to point out something to us that we need to change or get rid of.
But we have to do everything together with the Holy Spirit. We must be 100% sure that we live within God’s will. We must not run after popularity. We must not believe and do because everybody else is. No, we must believe as we find peace with our Father.
We must remember that the Word of God is exactly that: God’s words. We are human, just human. At times, God is incomprehensible to us and trying to make sense of the incomprehensible may lead to different interpretations. We must allow each other space for this, because even though there are differences, there may also be unity.
Often we argue about things that do not involve our salvation at all. As long as we believe that Jesus has died for our sins and that He is faithful to forgive if we confess our sins, our place in heaven is assured.
That is why we can sit around one table reflecting God’s image amidst our differences.
Do you know what you believe in?
Will you listen to the way that others believe?
Do you have space for others to believe differently?
Father, sometimes we do not understand your word immediately. Please help us to listen to one another with patience and understanding when we’re not on the same page. Your Holy Spirit will lead each of us to the truth. Amen