#EUReferendum, Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Evangelism, Faith

Can you be friends, even when you disagree on politics?

Every day, our news channels and Social Media pages are filled with stories which could make us angry.  There are many viewpoints expressed on big political issues and it can leave us wondering if it is possible to have a sensible discussion, when we disagree with someone.

So, is it possible, as Christians to remain friends with people with whom we disagree?

I think the answer is simple: yes!  But it takes wisdom and discernment to find a way through.

In a time of tension, I thought I would share some practical tips.

Be intentional and attentive

My wife says I sometimes have ‘selective listening’ and in any political discussion, it is true that we often only hear what we want to hear.  If we are debating an issue with a friend, we have to make time to be intentional in the questions we ask and also to be attentive.  When we pay attention and really listen, we are able to hear not just the words that are being spoken, but what our friend is actually saying. 

Don’t crusade

This is an old word now but to ‘crusade’ means to be part of a vigorous campaign for political, social, or religious change.  When talking to friends, we can be guilty of this.  We might have strong views on a subject but our chief objective is to try and get them to ‘join our camp’ and change their views, rather than have an honest discussion.  When we stop trying to persuade others to our way of thinking, we open ourselves up to understanding their views.

Relationship over winning

This is an important question to ask ourselves in any discussion;  what is more important to me?  The relationship I have with my friend or ‘winning’?  It’s important to remember that in many senses, our friends’ views are sometimes a reflection of their identity.  So when we try to ‘win’, they might see it as a rejection of themselves as a person.  If we score our friendship highly and want it to remain in place, then we should always choose relationship over winning.

Beware of Social Media

I personally do not share political or controversial posts on Social Media.  There are a few reasons for this but one reason is that I do not want to be defined as a person who cannot have a reasonable discussion.  I would far rather talk about big issues around a dinner table, where people can understand my heart and passion.  On a screen (where many others can see), it is very easy to misunderstand what a person means, so I avoid anything like that.

Agree to disagree

Sometimes, if we feel ourselves getting emotional or angry, we need to have the courage to walk away from the conversation.  It is good to ask yourself the question; where is this conversation going?  Is it leading to a good resolution?  Or is it leading to more anger and upset?   We have to be able to agree to disagree.

So, in answer to the question, is it possible to remain friends with people, we have differences with, then I would go back to where I started and say a firm ‘yes’.  As always, we need to apply wisdom and kindness and above all, let us put our relationship first.

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#EUReferendum, Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Hope

Trusting God in the middle of turbulence

This week’s blog is a guest post, written by a good friend Alan Scotland, Chairman of UCB’s Board and Global Horizons.  Among many other responsibilities Alan is also a well respected Pastor to Pastors. 

I remember being on a plane to the US some years ago, when the pilot announced that we were about to enter a ‘corridor of turbulence’. I will never forget his words, ‘It is just a corridor of turbulence, it will pass. Don’t panic’.

The shaking of the plane lasted for about 25 minutes, although it felt much longer. At one point I thought I should try to contact my wife, to leave a message and say my goodbyes. But eventually, the turbulence passed and the plane landed safely.

Turbulence in any area of our lives is deeply uncomfortable. We think it will never end, we may even think that we won’t make it. But for the believer, our confidence is not in systems or technology or even politics, our confidence must be in the Lord and in His faithfulness. It’s not trite to say this, it’s the truth.

However, when we are facing uncertainty in the world, how can we respond?

Be certain of your certainties.

The world is shaking at the moment. From North to South, nearly every area of the world is affected by turmoil of one kind or another. For believers, this is a pressure test and we need to ask ourselves, what is our faith placed in? Is it our finances? Our health? The Prime Minister? All of those things, as we are seeing, can be taken away but God promises us that He will be faithful to every generation. This is a time for believers to be certain of what we believe in and to stand firm on those certainties.

Don’t join the symphony of soundbites

I am saddened by the turmoil around us, but I also feel grief at the many negative attitudes and soundbites which are getting coverage. As Christians, we need to bring stability with our words and we have to be careful that we don’t join the symphony of negativity around us.

We need to declare truth, hope in the middle of despair and model what it is to be human, but humans who have divine guidance. We might not like what is happening, but there is no doubt in my mind that God is moving and challenging us as people and as the church. In a time of despair, believers need to be saying boldly, ‘Yes the ship is at sea, but we have an anchor that is firm and secure’.

Learn to let go

My wife once took me on a big dipper. My response was to cling tightly to the bar and wait for it to be over. My wife said to me, ‘Let go Alan, stop gripping so tightly.’ In times of difficulty, it is very easy to ‘cling to the bar’, to cling to what we see and know. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding. One of our absolute certainties needs to be our unshakeable trust in God. He will not fail us or let us down.

Have a vision for the future

We need a vision for the future. We need to be able to see what God is doing, and what God is wanting to do next. Why don’t you take a moment and ask yourself, ‘what do I see?’ What is your dream for the future of this nation?

When I look to the future, I see a massive, unprecedented move of God. Not a move of God which is restricted to a continent or a nation, but a universal move of the Spirit, a move of God that is so big, that no one will be able to put their name on it. It will be God at work, increasing His Kingdom in a way that we could not even imagine.

My theology in days like these is shaped by hope. Even in the middle of turbulence, I see God shaping and preparing us for a universal, multi-national move of His presence. With that knowledge, we have nothing to fear. We have hope and those who trust and put their hope in the Lord, will never be put to shame.

Trusting God In The Middle Of Turbulence

#EUReferendum, Christianity

Looking ahead to God’s future…

I woke up this morning, like many others, to surprising news about the #EUReferendum.  What a night!

The political campaigns have dominated our headlines for many months and today, both inside and outside of the church, some will be rejoicing and some will be very disappointed.

As a nation, we need time to evaluate the choice that has been made and when we have processed the decision, we need to look forward to the future.

When we are reading the newspapers or looking at bad reports on Social Media, it can be easy to be fearful and feel concerned about the future.    However, even  in the middle of turmoil, we can experience God’s rest and have His peace guard our hearts and minds.

In uncertain times like these, we need to remain focused on who we are in God.  As believers, we are in this world but we are really citizens of the Kingdom of God.  God’s Word says that we are ambassadors to this world, and it is our job as believers and as the Church to be salt and light to the world around us.

I believe that in the days to come, the Church is being presented with a wonderful opportunity. If we stand together, united and work hard to preserve the bond of unity, we could see an unprecedented change in our country.

I believe there is a much bigger picture and God often does not reveal the whole plan to us immediately. He shows us step by step and as the saying goes, ‘the opportunity of a lifetime has to be taken in the lifetime of the opportunity’.

What if we were to dream and begin to see a field of opportunity?  What if we could see a Church which rises up in unity to bring truth and salt and light to our world?  God could be positioning and appointing His people for a far greater plan than anything we could have ever imagined.

Despite how we each might be feeling today, whether we are disappointed or rejoicing, let us still keep our focus on God and what He is doing.  With the prospect of a new Government being formed, let us also pray ‘in the gap’ for Godly leaders to be raised up.  Let’s pray that God’s man or woman will be appointed for the job ahead.

If you are unsure of how to pray, then why don’t we join together and pray as Jesus said we should;  Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

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