“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” – John 13:34
We believers are commanded to love our brothers and sisters in the Lord. But after being part of a church fellowship for a time or even after navigating the Christian blogging community here at WordPress for a period, we are bound to come across individuals that we don’t easily mesh with for whatever reason. Sometimes we’re put off by a person’s personality. Sometimes we don’t agree with a person’s beliefs regarding a secondary or tertiary doctrine and they keep “banging the drum” about it. Sometimes we perceive that we have somehow been wronged by an individual and refuse to forgive them. We should sacrificially love and forgive others as Christ forgave us, but sometimes it’s difficult to hang out with certain individuals. I’ve changed the names in the illustration below:
Mike and Sue Smith are a Christian married couple who live in our old neighborhood. My wife and Sue became good friends back in the day and we all socialized together occasionally. However, in 2001, during my very dumb prodigal “season” away from the Lord, my wife and I divorced, sold the house, and moved out of the neighborhood. Miraculously, the Lord brought my wife and I back together the following year. Twelve years went by, but in 2014 my wife reached out to Sue and they rekindled their friendship. We began socializing with the Smiths again and they invited us to a worship service at their church, which led to my returning to the Lord. Praise God! About every 6 or 8 weeks or so, we got together with the Smiths, either sharing a home-cooked meal or taking a short trip somewhere together. We had some good times and plenty of good conversation about the Lord and our Christian walk.
However, the Smiths (especially Sue) are very politically-minded and would regularly introduce political topics into the conversations. My wife is also very politically-minded, although she’s at the opposite end of the political spectrum from the Smiths. Me? I’m trying hard to be apolitical because I believe that politics and nationalism are a snare for Christians and this story is a good example of that. Anyway, during our get-togethers either Sue or my wife would invariably introduce a political topic into the conversation and the other would take off like a rocket. Often the discussions became tense and very uncomfortable. This happened just about every time the four of us got together. My wife realized that she and Sue were never going to agree politically, so, for the sake of the friendship, she asked that they avoid political discussions completely. But Sue wouldn’t stop. Again and again the Smiths, especially Sue, would bring up politics when we were together. Politics and nationalism were such integral parts of their beliefs and affections that they could not disengage from them.
One cold, Saturday night in January 2019 we were over at the Smiths’ for dinner and ONCE AGAIN they brought up politics. Both my wife and I kindly objected that we didn’t want to discuss politics, but they kept it up and kept it up until my wife finally responded. Things then quickly escalated to the point where Sue, the hostess, left the dinner table in a fit of rage and the three of us sat there in a very chilly and awkward silence. Should my wife and I just get up and leave? I had never been in a circumstance like that before. Things cooled down a little bit after my wife apologized for her part. After another half-hour of forced small talk, my wife and I finally extricated ourselves from that very awkward situation. When we got into our car, I turned to my wife and said something along the lines of, “THAT was the last straw. Never again.” We haven’t seen the Smiths since.
Rare is the fellow believer whose doctrinal beliefs are going to align exactly with ours. We all need to practice tolerance, patience, and forbearance when it comes to non-salvation issues. However, over the years I’ve had to disengage from/unfollow bloggers here at WordPress who were very passionate about a particular secondary or tertiary belief, turning it into their “hill to die on.” There are some believers who we are just not compatible with. We must love them and pray for them (I’ll be forever grateful to the “Smiths” for inviting us to their church in 2014), but being in their company and engaging with them is not good for them or for us.