Today we are hearing a lot about bipartisanship as the USA faces another election. It is a political term used to describe the relationship between two opposing political ideologies. However, it occurs to me that it represents much more than politics. It is about the deep underlying currents of belief which govern so many different relationships. For example, in a sense there needs to be a spirit of bipartisanship between denominations.
The question may arise, would that require compromise? Yes it might. How far can we go in accepting others who disagree with the details of our faith. One Pastor explained it to me like this “God only has one church, but there are different expressions of it”. Have you ever asked yourself what you have in common with those of another belief system, rather than what issues you differ on? Of course denominational differences are not the same as interfaith concerns, which are based on which god you worship. Within Christianity we presume everyone worships Christ.
When you meet a new friend, you usually build on things you have in common. Its really the same when it comes to sharing the gospel; the best evangelism draws on beliefs you share. When trust is built, there may be time to gently check out what the Bible says is true about things we disagree on. Oddly enough you may find your own perceptions are challenged. For example, is it’s God’s will for legalism to override love?
Legalism is the enemy of faith. It rests on the premise that our works define our eternal hope. Strict adherence to the law was the downfall of the Pharisees, whom Jesus condemned. God judges man on the condition of his/her heart. Do your feelings, and mine, please God? Are His expectations satisfied by the way in which we approach others with whom we differ?
The key to developing a powerful witness is respect. Respect for the environment in which your friend was nurtured, respect for the experiences God has allowed in their lives, respect for differences in opportunities. i.e. education, relationships, etc. We might even find there are positives to celebrate; after all each of us has been made in the image of God! Sometimes trouble, sorrow or pain creates a glaze over those very virtues, making them difficult to see. Let us be patient in our love.
We must be mindful that when our thoughts are disparaged or, in any other way we are discredited, our reaction is often to withdraw. We do not want to create that response when interacting with anyone who needs to know Jesus personally, do we? Our Lord Jesus is the perfect example of One who humbled Himself, taking on the form of man in order to deliver God’s message of salvation to a needy and rebellious people. That might be seen as compromising His glory, but He did it out of love. It was a bipartisan move.
Let us not be afraid to connect with people with all of the meekness shown by our Saviour who said: ”Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3). May we be willing to “step across the aisle” [across the hall, across the street, across the ocean] to welcome folks into the family of God. “Beginning in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”, Jesus calls us to be His witnesses. (Acts 1:8)
by Marilyn Daniels