Loving Across Our Differences | President’s Blog

May 30, 2022

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….

Galatians 5:22-23

There is nothing more central to my identity than my faith in Jesus Christ. I will spend the rest of my life and my career spreading the Gospel and making disciples of Jesus Christ. But my commitment to Christ does not stop me from loving and respecting my brothers and sisters of different religious backgrounds or of no religious faith at all. Consider that: I will spend the rest of my life spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ—that Jesus was born of a virgin, suffered and died for my sins, rose from the dead, ascended into to heaven, and will come again to judge the living and the dead. I do not believe Jesus is one of many ways to God the father. I believe Jesus’ words in John 14:6 are true: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

My Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters believe I am wrong about Jesus. Jews believe the messiah has not yet come. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet of God (Allah) but that he was never crucified and died and therefore never rose from the dead. Yet, despite those core, fundamental differences concerning Jesus, I can love and respect them. In fact, my Christian faith demands that I do. Loving and respecting them does not mean I agree with them. I do not. Yet, I can still love and respect those who think what I believe in more deeply than anything else is wrong.

Now consider the struggle Christians in the U.S. have today with loving and respecting even other Christians who have a different political partisanship or who voted for a different candidate for president in the 2020 election. Consider the fact that American Christians, who agree that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, will literally curse, berate and defame each other because of policy differences on taxes, renewable energy, school choice, etc. There is nothing in such behavior that glorifies God. There is nothing in such behavior that is reflective of the Christ we claim to represent. Most dangerous of all, such behavior tears down our Christian witness. What in such behavior is a nonbeliever supposed to see or hear and be drawn to life in Christ?

We must learn, again, to love each other across our differences.

Three men in a heated argument

Mind you, some differences are bigger and more important than others, and there is no compromise on what is the truth. But the idea that Christians must have identical political priorities or vote for the same candidates to be deserving of love and respect is a ruse of the devil, intended to distract us from what should be our priority—spreading the Gospel and making disciples. We can’t make disciples when we are busy defaming and tearing each other down over relatively superficial public policy issues. We do not have to agree to love.

If we are truly living in and being led by the Spirit, our behavior ought to be different than the behavior of those around us who are not. The fruit of the Spirit ought to be more clearly manifested in our lives, in our speech, in our walk. The Apostle Paul gives us guidance in Galatians 5:19-24:

19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

As ambassadors of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we can do better. Let us commit to doing better. If God, who is perfect, loves and has mercy on a wretch like me, I can certainly look past my differences with my brothers and sisters and love them as Christ has commanded (Mark 12:31).

President Wayne D. Lewis Jr.

About the Author

With 20 years of experience in education, higher education leadership is a calling for Wayne D. Lewis, Jr., President of Houghton University. He is recognized as being a champion for students; focusing on improving educational access, opportunities and experiences for students, including those who have historically been underserved.

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