CHRISTIAN COMMENT What to do when you disagree

There were two women interviewed on television this morning. About the public sector strike.

One was saying that she felt so strongly about the proposed changes to her nursing pension she was going to strike – against her convictions.

And the other one was saying that the chance of any pension (other than the basic state benefit) would be amazing. He r private pension scheme was worthless, her business wasn’t that profitable these days and she’d give her eye-teeth to have the sort of deal being offered to public sector workers.

Have you noticed? The airwaves are dominated by disagreement.

Politics – local, national, international. Economics – what’s the best way to get out of a financial hole? Sport – how should English Rugby be run? Or what should happen to the Olympic arena after 2012? Whatever the topic, disagreement rules.

Is that inevitable? Is there an easy answer for all these problems? Probably not. Answers – but not easy ones.

So what can be done? And why should Christians, of all people, be entitled to an opinion? After all the Church – in all its denominations and groupings across the world – sets the standard for disagreement, it would seem.

Jesus didn’t say that his followers would agree about everything.

That’d be like two friends who never had different views. Or a married couple who never argued. You do get those situations and that’s fine but the point is that you don’t have to agree with him or her in order to love someone.

What Jesus did say was ‘Everyone will know that you’re learning from me, learning to be like me, if they see that you love each other.’

Love depends on trust. You’ll accept what someone says if you trust them.

‘Darling, I’ll be home by six.’ Break your word enough times and trust will go and with it love. And the same in other areas: we’ve had politicians make solemn pledges – and then do the opposite.

If we do what we say, we build confidence and trust. Then, when disagreements come, we’ve got a deposit of trust that we can draw on.

Personally, I think that the pension crisis will get sorted along the lines the government’s set out. They’ll be affordable, the country won’t be bankrupted and things will settle down. But with a history of broken pledges as background, why should anyone trust that scenario?

Jesus said ‘Trust me. Even when you are violently opposed to what someone else is saying, trust me and do what I tell you. Forgive them. Act out of love. Trust me. I won’t let you down.’

He proved that he’s trustworthy by putting his life where his mouth was. He did what he said he’d do. And – gradually – I’ve discovered that what he says is to be trusted, too.

By Nigel O’Dwyer. Nigel lives and works in Worthing and is part of Goring New Life Church.