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‘I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’
This idea has been foundational to western liberal democracy. But, we live in a world which increasingly believes that to disagree is to hate.
Could it be that to disagree might in some circumstances actually be the manifestation of love?
If a child searching for meaning and identity and love has chosen a path of destruction through heroin, for example, would a parent be loving to blindly affirm him?
Could disagreement be love?
The apostle Paul wrote this to Timothy, a young pastor: ‘And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.’
Timothy was to be a model of the Lord Jesus, the most loving man who ever lived and yet the one who disagrees with everyone. Disagrees? Really? Yes, Jesus’ first word to the world in the gospel of Matthew is, ‘repent’, that is, ‘you are heading the wrong way, turn from sin to God.’
Jesus isn’t addressing a particular section of society, or a particular behaviour, he is not directing his gaze at ‘everyone except me’. This is the most loving call in the world to everyone everywhere. And it’s good news because it comes from a saviour who paid for sin and who offers us the power to change.
‘I have come,’ said Jesus, ‘that they may have life and have it in abundance.’
His invitation? Come, find out how to live and how to love.
Reverend Mark Jasper, Campbeltown Community Church.