} stickyFooter(); $(window).resize(function(){ stickyFooter(); }); });

Gracious engagement

Jun 30, 2022

In the last week, I’ve noticed more heat than usual in online discourse. Think of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe vs Wade, or the debate over transgender in sport, or closer to home, the political changes in our city. Sometimes we get in arguments. We feel something strongly and someone else disagrees. While Christians are called to pursue peace, how do you handle disagreements when they inevitably arise? 

Scripture calls on us to “honour everyone” (1 Pet. 2:17). Obeying that command has never been easy, and it has become harder in the social media age. Here are four thoughts on gracious engagement (whether in-person or online). 

First, pick your battles carefully. On the one hand, the solution to facing arguments is not to avoid them all the time. It can be unloving to not confront people in our lives about erroneous views, or sinful and destructive behaviour. But on the other hand, not everything has to be a battle. Scripture repeatedly speaks about those who have what the Apostle Paul calls “an unhealthy craving for controversy” (1 Tim. 6:4). 

Second, work hard at understanding people. Don’t assume that you fully understand their position straight away. We often have blind spots in our knowledge. Therefore, ask questions before judging. Seek to understand someone’s position in the best possible light. By doing this, we humanize those with whom we disagree rather than demonizing them. This doesn’t mean that we downplay the truth. But love remembers this: people are far more than the sum of their sometimes-mistaken positions. The image they bear doesn’t ride on the views they hold. 

We treat others with grace because of Him who has treated us with grace. 

Third, don’t make it your aim to win the argument. Sometimes we get very concerned with being “right” and being seen to be “right”. Pride kicks in, and our sense of identity is affected. Remember that your identity is secure in Christ. You are loved in him. That means you don’t have to work hard to prove yourself. You don’t have to compare yourself to others. You don’t have to win the argument. Instead, we make it our aim to bring honour to Jesus. 

Fourth, your witness to non-Christians affects the credibility of the gospel. The New Testament is explicit in telling us how we should relate to outsiders. Paul says our conversations should be “full of grace, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6). Peter says we should speak to them with “gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience” (1 Pet. 3:15-16). 

The Bible is filled with summons to give, to serve, to sacrifice, to lay down our rights. But one command is unapologetically competitive: “Outdo one another in showing honour” (Rom. 12:10). We treat others with grace because of Him who has treated us with grace. 

Alex McCoy
Vicar

Latest stories

Single Minded Conference

Single Minded Conference

Most of us are used to hearing about the goodness of marriage and family in the church. At church, we see proud parents celebrating their newborns at baptism and bringing their children to Kidzone. In the Bible, we read about the marriage of Adam and Eve that begins...

read more
Hard sayings of Jesus

Hard sayings of Jesus

Most people love a buffet. It’s the opportunity to pick and choose what you’d like to eat, no matter the eclectic combination of foods. “I like that, but I don’t like that.” We say that at the buffet, but sometimes we also say that about the Bible. Let’s face it,...

read more
Trusting in government?

Trusting in government?

A few weeks ago, a former Australian Prime Minister made headlines for telling Christians not to trust in governments. Scott Morrison wasn’t campaigning (he’d just lost an election). He was merely reminding Christians, regardless of their nationality or political...

read more

Weekly Email
If you would like to learn more about what’s happening in our community, receive stories, scripture reading, prayer points and catch up on previous sermons, click to subscribe.