For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8 & 9 KJV)
In a recent post, I made this statement, “God has given me free will and will not violate my free will.” A dear friend, who is more knowledgeable about Scripture than I, disagreed. My friend commented, “The word violate seems strong and connotes a right that God will not trespass.”
I want to clarify that in no way was I trying to diminish God’s sovereignty. God is God—all-knowing, all-seeing and always present—and has the power to act in accordance with that Divine character. Also, God created humankind with the free will to choose to obey or disobey. Examples of both God’s various methods as well as humankind’s obedient and disobedient choices are evident throughout the Old and New Testaments.
The more I learn and experience God’s character of grace and goodness, the more I desire to choose to obey. I understand because of many factors, I, as well as others, may be misguided in some of our perceptions or choices. I believe God sees beyond our behavior—even our words—to our hearts and will guide in good paths those whose hearts desire to be led.
If you’ve been reading my posts for any length of time, you know I love Scripture. The Bible has been the most important guideline for my life. Since early childhood, it has provided hope, comfort, confirmation, correction, direction, and so much more.
I am not, however, a theologian and try to be exceedingly cautious about giving the impression I know what in fact I do not know. Isaiah 55:8 & 9 is a constant reminder that God’s thoughts and ways often run contrary to the prism through which I view life.
Robust discussion, even disagreement, are healthy when delivered respectfully, which, by the way, my friend did. I considered her perspective; read references she provided; and will undoubtedly make new discoveries and grow in this process.
In considering this situation, I’ve asked: What exactly does respectful disagreement look like? Perhaps the best way to answer this question is by comparison.
Respectful disagreement is delivered with
a spirit of humility,
consideration for another’s perspective.
Disrespectful disagreement on the other hand is delivered with
an air of self-righteous superiority,
contempt for another’s perspective.
Disagreeing respectfully may feel counterintuitive in a culture that seems to value snarky over civil and gotcha more than grace.
I’ve observed, however, that
- respectful disagreement often results in expanded insight and greater unity, while
- disrespectful disagreement creates even deeper divides.
Because of the free will God has granted me, I desire to choose the first option to the best of my ability and understanding.
Blessings to you!