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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mark Batterson » Mark Batterson - The Art of Agreeing to Disagree

Mark Batterson - The Art of Agreeing to Disagree

Mark Batterson - The Art of Agreeing to Disagree
TOPICS: Peacemakers

Jocelyn Broman: I've heard it said that peace for the Christian isn't necessarily absence of conflict, but the presence of wholeness. And so it's not just managing the differences. It's about finding ways to bring understanding, so that everyone can become more whole, and more healed.

Daniel West: For such a time as this, FSAT, for short, is a Bible study held on Capital Hill, primarily for Hill staffers, but we have people from on and off the Hill. We've come together over books, over scripture, I think one of the beauties of FSAT is people come from both sides of the aisle, and it's really humanizing when so often you might read something about somebody else's boss, or something, and that could be very impersonal, but being in a room together, studying scripture together, wanting to grow in fellowship with one another, ultimately those political barriers are not what, they shouldn't separate us when we have one King.

Ivette Delgado: I guess it was like the first day that I was in there, we were like going around, and talking, you know, just introducing ourselves or whatever, and like Jocelyn said her name, and that's my sister's name, and immediately I was like we're gonna be friends. And then I found out she was a republican, and I was like ooh. Learning her name before like I knew anything else, was just like God like already stripping away, like tearing down like any little wall that I may have already started to build. I think I thought I was coming to it from a humble place, but like I really did feel like God like just tried to humble me even more. God like kinda softened my heart before that, you know, like being this is your sister, you know. And whatever's like at the end of her name, if it's like a D or an R, like that doesn't matter. And yeah, sorry. We actually have more in common than what I would've thought, and the culture right now is very binary. It's like you're either left or right. You're either republican, you're either democrat. It's this way or that, but like Jesus is like the way. And so if we're all following him, then like our hearts should all break for the same things.

Jocelyn Broman: There's more than one side to a story. In fact, there's not even just two sides. There's always gonna be multiple understandings of a specific issue, or a specific problem. Being able to actually take every thought captive, and actually submit it to Christ, and submit it to God, and say okay, what are my wrong ways of thinking, what are my right ways of thinking, and how do I partner with God, and with my community to move the conversation to a place where we can, one, hear each other, and also understand that we're all people.

Ivette Delgado: Having that grace for someone can really go a long way, in that bigger goal that we should all have, verses you know, convicting someone to vote for a particular person.

Ted Ellis: You know, people who are doing this in real time, you know, here in D.C., that takes a lot of bravery, and it's not easy, and it takes a lot of vulnerability. So to me, peace building is showing that vulnerability, living that vulnerability, and saying look, let's have a conversation, I don't know where it's gonna lead, but I want to know you, I wanna understand where you're coming from, and having that as the foundation for whatever you go on to do next.

Ivette Delgado: You know, let's be a church that influences the city that influences the world, and I just feel like in my bones here, and I feel like that's what this church is doing, and we have every opportunity to do that. We're so close to the big decision makers in this country, so it's like let's use our God given anointings to do all those things, and not hold back, because we are here for such a time as this.

Well, welcome to National Community Church, all seven campuses, we are in a series called "Peacemakers". Last weekend, Pastor Joshua shared a little bit about our church plan in Baltimore. This will be our second network church. Last year we planted Pastor Kurtis Parks, Bridges Church in Nashville. Next year Pastor Joshua in Baltimore, believing that God is gonna tap some of you on the shoulder to be a part of that church plan. Let me share a little update. A few weeks ago I challenged our church to flip the blessing, do you remember this? Seven year ago, Covenant Church in Dallas, Texas gave us $100,000 gift in five minutes flat. It was unbelievable. And the Lord put it in my spirit, God would you give us an opportunity to flip this blessing some day, some how, and so when Pastor Joshua shared this vision for Baltimore, I felt like the Lord said this is it.

Now I'll be honest, sometimes when you preach something, and you ask something like that, you kinda wonder how it's gonna turn out. I've got some good news, add up the pledges and the gifts, we are at $189,787. Now listen, if you wanna get in on this IPO,, you can do that. I love it, we are no only gonna flip the blessing, come on, we're gonna do a double flip. I love it, all right. If you have a Bible, you can turn to the gospel of John, we'll get there in a minute. But let me back up the truck just a little bit. There is a phrase, and I'm gonna put it on the screen, may the Lord judge between you and me. Now you may have seen this before, it pops up in the prophets, in the judges, but the first instance may be a little marital dispute in the book of Genesis.

Now this is pre-law, so polygamy is still being practiced, okay. Sarah, unable to have children, so she gives her handmaid Hagar, as a secondary wife to Abram, Hagar has son named Ishmael, and as you might imagine, the whole thing turns into a soap opera. The Bible is not boring. So many complicated emotions, relational tensions. Long story short, you gotta love this, Sarah gets upset because Abram does what she told him to do. She says this is your fault, she says you are responsible for the wrong I am suffering, basically they play the blame game, just like we do. No one wins the blame game, everybody loses the blame game. So how did they resolve it? Are you ready for this? They don't. And that's incredibly frustrating, if you are like a person like me, who wants to fix everything in five minutes flat. But this is not a problem to solve. This is a tension to manage. And life is full of situations like this, relationally, politically, emotionally, spiritually.

What do you do when you don't agree with someone about something? I think Sarah and Abram actually set precedent here. Sara coins this idiom, this adage, may the Lord judge between you and me, well what does that mean? Well for starters, I'm not omniscient. I am not perfect, I'm not smart enough to figure everything out. We are not gonna see eye to eye on everything. And I'm not gonna take matters into my own hands. See, we want to assign blame, we wanna figure out who's right and who's wrong. But there are situations, there are issues, there are problems we cannot solve. Do you know that Sarah and Abram managed this tension the rest of their marriage? At some point we've gotta stop playing judge and jury. And we've got to agree to disagree, and let the Lord judge between us.

How do we do that? Well, we live in a democracy where we enjoy the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom of press, the freedom of assembly. In this kind of pluralistic culture, we are not gonna see eye to eye on everything. Listen, most Supreme Court decisions are not unanimous. They're split decisions. Here's what I'm getting at. When we find ourselves in these kinds of situations, how do we agree to disagree, 'cause we've gotta be better at this. And that's what I wanna talk about this weekend. I think Jesus sets the example in John 4, let me set the scene, now in hermeneutics, there's a very simple principle, text without context is pretext.

There is so much context happening in John chapter 4. Cultural, racial, historical, and so there's so much context happening in this little sitcom that John shares, and I think we gotta understand what's happening here. So Jesus is on his way from Judea to Galilee, the most direct route was right through Samaria, but here's the catch, according to Josephus, the Jewish historian, the Jews would take a roundabout route in order to sidestep Samaritan soil. In other words, they would go out of their way to go around Samaria, to avoid contact with the people they had a prejudice against. Now this racial tension went back 700 years, when the Jewish people were taken captive by the Assyrians in the 7th century BC. The Jews of the Northern kingdom, intermarried with the Assyrians.

So they're half Jew, half Gentile. And the Jews of the Southern kingdom, well they considered them half-breeds. And so they felt like the Samaritans had sold out, and the Samaritans felt like the Jews were a little uppity, and the crazy thing is they worshiped the same God. But they did it in different places, and in different ways. They had been segregated at this point for 700 years. With that as a backdrop, let me jump in, verse 1. The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John. So his approval ratings are off the charts, opinion polls, all time high, popularity is peaking. When Jesus learned of this, he left Judea and returned to Galilee, verse 4. It was necessary for him to go through Samaria. Let me stop right there and say this, no it was not necessary for him to go through Samaria. 'Cause everybody else went around Samaria.

And there's a little bit of shock and awe here that we miss, 'cause most of us are Americans. If you were a first century Jew, your reaction to this would be oh no he didn't, with a little finger wag, okay. Why would Jesus do this? I wanna tell ya a story, I wanna share five principles, five practices that I think can help us navigate our differences, navigate our disagreements a little bit better. One of Teddy Roosevelt's favorite pastimes was something he called a point-to-point hike. Now Roosevelt found no joy in hiking trails that were already blazed, that would be boring. Roosevelt loved getting off the grid, loved getting off-road, and so he would set out for a particular destination, and there was one simple rule, you could not alter course. It was a point-to-point, you had to hike in a linear line towards that destination.

If you came to a wall, you climb over it. If you come to a stream, you swim across it. You don't go around, you go through. Now one day the French ambassador paid a little visit to the president. Roosevelt thought it might be fun to take him on one of these point-to-point hikes. The ambassador would later say what the president called a walk was a run. During that hike, they came to Rock Creek, I have a hunch that this was very much planned. The president started taking off all of his clothes right down to his skivvies. And the French ambassador, not sure exactly what to do, a little bit reluctant, but followed suit. Paparazzi woulda had a hay day. French ambassador would later say, "I too, for the honor of France, removed my apparel, everything except my lavender kid gloves". Why, in his words, did he not remove his gloves? "If we should meet ladies".

I can think of a lot of other things you might wanna keep covered. American president, French ambassador became fast friends, part of his tennis cabinet, so to speak. In fact, this is fun, there's an 83 year old granite bench in Rock Creek Park that is dedicated to the French ambassador, he's the only person who could hang with Teddy Roosevelt on a hike. All of that to say this, can I suggest that discipleship is a point-to-point hike? That spiritual growth is a point-to-point hike. That the spiritual journey that all of us are on is a point-to-point hike. The way we grow up spiritually is not by sidestepping or short cutting, or circumventing Samaria.

The way we grow up spiritually is through tough times, by making tough decisions, by having tough conversations, by exercising tough love, and no one modeled this point-to-point approach to life better than the one in who's footsteps we follow. Let me fast forward, Jesus does a point-to-point hike through Samaria, and he has this life altering conversation with a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. Now you can read all about it in John 4. He ends up staying in Samaria for two days, which is really interesting. And takes a tremendous relational risk, but the net result is reconciliation.

The net result is a revival that breaks out across Samaria, why? Because Jesus didn't just hunker in a Jewish bunker. He ventured into no-man's land, took a little bit of crossfire, and showed us how to resolve 700 year issues. What I wanna do is pull five practices, five principles from this story, these are rules of engagement. I'm gonna rapid fire these up front, and we'll get as far as we can go. One, check your ego at the door. Two, identify least common denominators. Three, let your conscience be your guide. Four, don't be dogmatic about disputable matters. And five, love people when they least expect it.

Number one, check your ego at the door, you have gotta operate in a spirit of humility. What does that mean? Well, as soon as I'm omniscient, I will let you know, but I would not hold your breath. The way you disarm people is by sharing your doubts. The way you disarm people is by sharing your faults first. You have gotta level the playing field, you've gotta put yourself in their shoes, that's what the incarnation is. Most of us would rather share opinions then bear burdens, yes? Most of us would rather be right than righteous. Reading Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, "Talking to Strangers", in that book he talks about this phenomenon called the illusion of asymmetrical insight. It's cognitive bias, simply put, we perceive our knowledge of others to be greater than their knowledge of themselves.

Oh my. We thin slice people. And we quickly judge that book by its cover, and we often get it wrong. But let me flip this script, because it's so fascinating, this may be the first incidence of a spiritual gift that's called a word of knowledge. This is when the Holy Spirit gives us prophetic insight into a situation or into someone's life. In this instance, Jesus somehow knew that this woman had five broken marriages. And it was that word of knowledge that convinced her that he was who he said he was, that he was in fact the Messiah.

So listen, we've gotta operate in the gifts of the spirit. But I love what Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury said, he said, "Emotional intelligence is a wonderful adjunct faculty to the gifts of the spirit". And so let's function in the gifts of the spirit. We need prophetic help when we are speaking into people's lives, but let's make sure we do it with some emotional intelligence. Here's what I know for sure, most people are far more complicated than we give them credit for. And a little humility goes a long way when it comes to agreeing to disagree, you have got to check your ego at the door.

Number two, you've gotta identify least common denominators. Wasn't that a wonderful video? I think that's what, For Such A Time is, what that group does, listen, blood is thicker than water. The blood of Christ, and so love the way that that group models. What they found the least common denominator. Listen, love it, now mathematics, this is what two fractions have in common, if I'm not mistaken. I think it's true of human fractions, and human factions. There is a very real relational racial tension in this story, the woman accentuates there are differences of opinion, she says our forefathers worshiped on this mountain, referring to Mount Gerizim, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where it is necessary and proper to worship.

This is so normal for us to identify our differences, and then accentuate them. And so they're worshiping the same God, but in different places and in different ways. And Jesus, the issue is not geography. And by the way, we do the same thing. If you don't worship where I do, National Community Church, if you don't worship the way I do, with my hands like this, or maybe on my knees or whatever, then we aren't sure if you're really worshiping at all. Come on, we gotta outgrow that. Jesus says this, he finds a least common denominator. He says the time is coming and has now come, when true worshipers will worship the Father, how? In spirit, and in truth. There will always be things, lots of things, that we do not see eye-to-eye on. This is true of God fearing, Bible believing, Christ following Christians, in case you haven't noticed.

Lots of denominations, and these denominations have a tendency to divide us, why? 'Cause we major in minors. And this is where I might remind us that long before there Catholics and Protestants, long before there was the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, long before Paul wrote his epistles, there was, the church rallied around a simple statement of faith, the creed consisted of three words, Jesus is Lord. Romans 10:9-10, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. Now that seems pretty simple, but it was really quite revolutionary in the Roman context. It was Caesar Augustus who declared that a census be taken, which is why Jesus was born in Bethlehem. That same Caesar declared himself Pontifex Maximus, or chief priest of Rome, in 12 AD. Renovated 82 Roman temples, re-instituted the sacrificing of animals to Roman gods, and upon his death, Augustus was declared the son of God.

Under Diocletian, the Latin word Dominus became an official title of Roman emperors, it was the title of sovereignty, essentially Diocletian is Lord. Do you see where this is going? Anything less, anything else was treason. So declaring Jesus is Lord was a frontal assalt on Rome, which may be why a lotta Christians ended up in Roman coliseums. And we have a little saying at NCC, not about the name over the church doors, it's about the name that's above all names, #sameteam. We need lots of different kinds of churches, 'cause there are lots of different kinds of people.

Let's remember Ephesians 4:5, there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Jesus is Lord, can we agree on that? One footnote, Jews and Samaritans had something in common, his name was a guy named Jacob. And he was the one who built the well where they're having this conversation. And so yes, they had been segregated for 700 years, but guess what, their common history went back thousands of years. We forget so quickly. I know, about 400 years, Protestants and Catholics have a little different history. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water, because for about 1600 years, we had a common history. Let's remember that, all right.

Number three, let your conscience be your guide. Let me say two things up front, first, we live in a culture that in many ways has sacrificed truth on the alter of tolerance. And two, we live in the epicenter of political correctness. If I have to choose between political correctness and biblical correctness, I'm gonna choose biblical correctness seven days a week, and then twice on Sunday. Now gotta be humble enough to admit that it's my interpretation, but if it puts me at odds with culture, so be it. Martin Luther said, "My conscience is taken captive by God's word, to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us". We've gotta live according to our convictions, and those convictions come from a conscience that is fine tuned to scripture and fine tuned to the Holy Spirit.

Let me go back to John 4, remember Jesus' popularity is peaking. Question, when everything is going great, what do you do? You keep doing what you've been doing. Right, you stay the course, you do not upset the apple cart. You definitely don't do anything that is going to change people's opinions of you. That is of course, if you're making decisions based on opinion polls. Jesus did not operate with that compass. That is not where his convictions came from. He was walking to the beat of another drummer, his name is the Holy Spirit, and that's why so much of what he did was counterintuitive, and counter-cultural. If you live your life like it's a popularity contest, you are gonna be all over the map, except Samaria. I think one of the most important questions we need to ask and answer when it comes to peacemaking is this, who are you gonna offend?

You can please all the people some of the time, some of the people all the time, you cannot please all the people all the time. If you fear people, you will offend God. If you fear God, you will offend people. I live by this little mantra thou shalt offend Pharisees. Jesus was not afraid of offending self-righteous, religious types. And by the way, I would define self-righteous this way, it's someone who would rather be right than righteous. So let me ask a couple of questions, right here. Are you living according to your conscience, or according to culture? Are you, who are you more afraid of offending? God or people? And would you rather be right or righteous? You better be honest with yourself, I think those diagnostic questions can help us as we try to live a spirit led life.

All right, number four, you're doing great, number four. Don't be dogmatic about disputable matters. Now we have a little preamble to our core beliefs. It's something that Rupertus Meldenius said 400 years ago, he said, "In the essentials, unity, in the non-essentials, liberty, in all things, charity". Now the challenge, of course, is that we define different doctrines as being essential and non-essential. But I love this approach to theology. I remember at the University of Chicago, studying this philosophy of science, and it's this simple idea that we don't know what we don't know. And the more we know, the more we know how much we don't know. And I think we need a little bit of critical realism when it comes to our theology, especially the non-essentials.

Romans 14:1 says this, don't pass judgment on disputable matters. Well what is a disputable matter? Well it's something that the Bible is not black and white about, it's a gray area. And this is where we've gotta let God be as original with others as he was with us. This is where we've gotta give God some elbow room, and get people some breathing room. I think there are two mistakes that we make in this regard, we condone what's wrong, come on let's not do that, or we condemn what's right, let's not do that either. Romans 14:22 says blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. This is where we need an extra measure of discernment, this is where we need an extra measure of grace. This is where we have to try so hard to be un-offendable. And I think this is where we've gotta put Ephesians 4:3 into practice, make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. We have one little caveat right here, in 1 Corinthians 8, the apostle Paul says it's okay to eat food sacrificed to idols.

Now, I'm guessing that has not kept you up at night lately, right, you know, this isn't an issue for most of us, but this was a hot button issue for a kosher Jew who followed strict dietary regulations. And listen to what he says, be careful however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. Well what's a stumbling block? It's an attitude or a behavior that causes another person to sin. It might not be wrong for you, it doesn't violate your conscience, but those are instances where instead of exercising your freedom, you exercise restraint by not exercising your rights. Why, 'cause you love that person. And you don't wanna do something that's gonna set them back. I mean these are sticky issues.

I'll give ya an example, you know, I think there are a lotta people who make a decision to abstain from alcohol for one reason or another. For some it might be that that's a potential addiction, and need to steer clear. For others, it's just for another reason. But it's a matter of conscience. The Bible does not say do not drink, it says don't be drunk with wine. And so what we have to be careful to do is not redraw lines. When we add amendments, I think that's called legalism. Now listen, if that's your conviction, then I want to respect that, I think it might be a good thing. But we've gotta be very careful that we aren't dogmatic about disputable matters.

Number five, love people when they least expect it. You know this is true, people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Let me tell you what love is not, I'm not sure that our culture defines it this way, love is not you approving of everything I do. Love is not you agreeing with everything I believe. If it is, Lora and I are in trouble. Pick any hot button issue and there are differing opinions, and we wanna know who's right and who's wrong. But the end goal is not just to be right, it's to be righteous, and I think that looks like loving everybody always. I think that that's loving, regardless.

Now again, love is not approving of, or agreeing with everything someone does or believes, that's called marriage, that's called parenting, that's called friendship. Let me give you a definition of what it is, and it's an equation, and it's in John's gospel, 1st chapter, 14th verse, it says that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Love equals grace plus truth. Now grace means I'm gonna love you no matter what, truth means I'm gonna be honest with you, no matter what. That is a tremendous tension to manage. But that is what we're called to.

I wanna invite our worship teams to come, let me close with this. Last Christmas, my brother got me a Slackline, do you know what this is? It's a very frustrating thing. It's basically a tightrope, and you try to walk across it, without falling on either side, and you are constantly rebalancing. I just think that's such a beautiful picture to me of what it's like trying to navigate disputable matters. This is such a wonderful picture of what it's like trying to exercise grace and truth. We are constantly rebalancing but I think we need to cut each other a little slack. I worked hard on this, pun intended. At its core, I think love is about taking relational risks, and I think we read right over it in John 4, but listen, men and women did not have a conversation like this, in that day and age.

And so I think two things are happening here, and it's beautiful to me. I think Jesus is elevating the status of women. Come on, let's get past this, and then, I think he's loving this woman when she least expects it. You can kinda, there's an element of surprise to the story, and I think this is when love is at its best. I mean have you found that if you get a gift for your loved one, on their birthday, you don't get any credit for that. Now you might get docked something if you forget, you get credit when you do it, when it's not expected.

Now I don't think we tend to think of risk in relational terms, but isn't that how every romance starts? You risk rejection, isn't that how you have hard conversations? You risk disagreement. Jesus did not tiptoe through the tulips. He says, "Go call your husband". She says, "I don't have a husband". He says, "You have spoken truly. You've had five husbands, and the man you're living with now is not your husband". He didn't pull any punches, 'cause that's not doing anybody any favors. Yes, we need to fill gaps with positive assumptions. Yes, we need to catch people doing things right. But you also have to take some relational risks, like this one.

You know what, if you really wanna help someone, sometimes you have to risk hurting them. Now you better speak the truth in love, I think timing is significant. But this is this woman's deepest hurt. This is where there is brokenness. This is the taboo topic, and Jesus is like we're gonna go there. Because what you can seal God cannot heal. And so bottom line, this is where we need prophetic wisdom. I mean this is where we need spiritual gifts, this is where we need the help of the Holy Spirit, this is where we need to love people when they least expect it.

So much more I would love to say, but I'm outta time. What relational risk do you need to take this week? I know it's Thanksgiving week, that might change the context a little bit. What relational risk do you need to take this week? Would you check your ego at the door? Would you identify least common denominators? Would you let your conscience be your guide? Don't be dogmatic about disputable matters, and love people when they least expect it, and see what God does, in Jesus name, amen.
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