How to Get Along

“Pursue peace with everyone…” (Heb. 12:14)

Aside from the usual stresses related to Covid-19, it’s been unsettling to find myself at odds with like-minded people.

Whether masks, lockdowns, vaccines, or how the church should behave, the past eleven months have sometimes put me in tension with others. At the very least, it’s disorienting. At worst, it threatens to unravel relationships with people I love. Can you relate to this?

There’s no quick fix. But there are some practical ways to pursue peace and minimize damage to friends, family, and church. Here are three of them:

1. Assume the Best of Others

Sure, maybe that friend or sister-in-law or church member is part of a sinister global plot to destroy religious freedom and usher in the Man of Lawlessness. But probably not. Or, maybe that friend or brother-in-law or church leader is selfishly obsessed with their personal rights and uncaring about the elderly or vulnerable. But probably not.

We all want others to assume our best intentions and motives. The Golden Rule tells us to treat others the same way. So, when you find yourself at odds with someone over their views about _______ (insert favourite subject), don’t immediately assume that their position reflects selfishness, stupidity, or worse. Assume that they want the best for the church and the community and the country, as you do.

2. Admit your Own Ignorance

For all its perks, the bane of Google is that it’s made experts of us all. But a few clicks, a few websites, a few articles make one an expert in nothing. Some of us are so afraid of admitting what we don’t know that we come across as know-it-alls. And who wants to be friends with a know-it-all?

Even if you’re a Nobel Prize winning epidemiologist or have a PhD in Eschatology, there are things you don’t know and things you don’t see about this world and our present moment in it. Only God is all-knowing and all-seeing, and as someone once said, “You ain’t Him.” So, have the humility to admit the things you don’t know, and to admit that you don’t know all things.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have convictions or come to our own conclusions. It does mean we should hold those convictions and conclusions humbly, especially when they concern matters that are new and unfamiliar.

3. Affirm What you Have in Common

Covid-19 has thrown gasoline on the fires of controversy. Whether medical or political or theological, this pandemic has exposed our worldviews—how we see the world and the church and the government and our roles and responsibilities therein. This is not a bad thing. But, along with this, Covid-19 has also pressed on the fractures in our churches and families and friendships, which is painful. Somehow this disease has magnified our differences and minimized our deepest and most common concerns.

A way to put things in perspective and proper proportion is to affirm what we have in common with others. It may be family history, fond memories, shared experiences, common values. If it’s a fellow believer that you’re in tension with, then affirm what you have most in common with him or her—faith in the gospel, love for the Lord and his church, and the hope of the kingdom that is
to come.

Following these guidelines won’t solve every disagreement or save every relationship. But it may save some pain, prevent some unnecessary conflict, slow the fires of destruction, and keep us together. To put these into practice might just help us get along with others and be at peace with those we care about. And that’s worth pursuing.

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker