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Everyday Faith

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Often, when I’m speaking with someone who doesn’t agree with something I’ve said, especially with regard to my religious beliefs, I’m too quick to defend myself or take offense or worse yet, get angry out of frustration . . . or dare we say, insecurity.

This last chapter of Acts describes Paul’s journey from Malta, as a prisoner, to Rome where he defended his faith and became a free man.

These particular verses, which Paul uses to illustrate his inability to convince the elders of the Jewish church in Rome about Jesus as the Messiah, got me thinking . . .

My usual quick, gut reaction doesn’t help me, it simply shuts down communication.

Instead, I’m trying to learn to pause, take a step back, and try to see things from the other person’s perspective. Often, they’re not trying to be insulting, they’re defending a position that they believe is equally of merit.

What I am practicing is rather than react defensively, what if I simply “agree to disagree”? I maintain my beliefs, while keeping my relationship with the other person intact.

I’m not denying my beliefs; they’re as strong as ever. However, I’ll accept that not everyone has to believe what I do in order for me to be right or for me to believe what I believe.

I truly believe that we will each eventually come into a relationship with God.

However, it must be on our own terms, not someone else’s . . . which makes perfect sense because we are each individuals. My relationship with my mother is different than my siblings’ relationships with her, because we are each different people. That doesn’t make any of those relationships less loving or enduring, simply different in their perspective.

I believe it’s the same in our relationship with God. He loves each of us equally—yes, even those of us who don’t acknowledge His existence. And if we believe that God is in control, can we also believe that He will eventually bring each of us into a relationship with Him?

If we can embrace that idea, we can live our faith, share it with others, and not be insulted or intimidated when we are rejected. We can respect the beliefs (or atheism) of others with the knowledge that everyone is on a different path to God.

Do you have a family member, close friend, or co-worker whose differing beliefs cause conflict in your relationship? How can you extend Jesus’ commandment that “we love one another”, even though you don’t share the same beliefs?

This essay was originally published in God Loves Your Dream, a book of inspirational essays. Get your copy on Amazon.com.

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