We live in an age where a simple Facebook status update can launch a firestorm. Where the comment section of a blog post – even one not expected to be controversial by the writer – can blow up in vitriolic debate. Where relationships are broken with an e-mail rant or a “hide” button because we just can’t see eye-to-eye on this thing or that thing, and so how can we live life together?
I’ll admit to being intimidated by it all.
I have friends who agree with me on most of the big things that can quickly divide two people. I’ve also had relationships drift over matters of parenting, politics, church stuff. We might say it was just a season and time to move on, but we know deep down there was a gap too wide to bridge, and my heart still grieves sometimes.
But then there are the friendships that constantly bless me with their authenticity and endurance. The ones that nearly knock me over with God’s grace, redemption, and healing power. It’s those ones where we don’t agree.
We parent our babies differently.
We school our children differently.
We handle Halloween differently.
We discipline differently.
We vote differently.
We – yes – even interpret a few Scriptures differently. We are Calvinism vs. Arminianism, pre-trib vs. post-trib. We are no alcohol vs. a drink or two in moderation. We are spanking vs. no spanking, Harry Potter vs. no Harry Potter. We have varied views on pacifism, observing the Sabbath, and tattoos.
We could launch scripture back and forth, turning the Word into a weapon between sisters. Instead, we discuss and move on. Iron sharpens iron, and I am being sharpened by her perspective and even by our disagreement, as questions drive me to seek God for clarity. I am shaped by love that perseveres and the grace we’re learning to extend to one another.
I see Jesus in her, and she sees Him in me. We understand that neither of us has a flawless perspective, but that the same Spirit indwells us both (1 Corinthians 6:19) and is transforming us to reflect Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). We say, “I don’t agree, but I know your heart. You are following Jesus the best way you know how, and so am I.”
And that is enough. That is what matters.
Parenting differences may come up during playdates, and politics will occasionally creep into our chats over coffee. But we know when to shrug our shoulders and go on loving each other. There are meals to share and prayers to be prayed; babysitting favors to exchange and hands to hold. God has purposed us to walk together in community, and we will choose the unity Christ prayed we would show so that the world would know who He was and His great love (John 17:22-23).
We are different. And we are one.
How have you been blessed by friendships that bridge the gap of differences?
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