So, with all of the differing opinions out there, and more divide between those opinions than ever, can you really love someone who you don’t agree with? What if you don’t agree with them on something that is pretty big? Pretty important?
I know comparing any situation to Jesus is risky for a couple of reasons. First of all, I know people ask “What would Jesus do?” when they’re trying to decide what they would do, but to be honest, I almost never know exactly what Jesus would do in any situation I’m in. I know what he did in the scriptures and what he does now in relation to us, but I just can’t always be sure exactly what he would do if he were here in my shoes (though I try to make an educated guess). Secondly, I’m not that good at doing what Jesus did, or does, or would do. I try, but I stink at it most of the time, even with my best efforts.
Nevertheless, I am going to use what I know about Jesus to help answer the question as long as you’ll give me the benefit of the doubt that I know I am not good at being like Jesus…
Jesus and I don’t see eye-to-eye regarding many of the situations that I find myself in. Let’s take lying. Let’s pretend that I was in the habit of lying. If that were the case, I’d bet that Jesus wouldn’t agree with me. What I mean is, when I come to the point of having to make a choice about my honesty, and I choose to lie, I imagine that Jesus would be up there thinking, “Oh, Brian, you and I sure see this decision differently. You’re doing almost exactly the opposite of what I would do in that very situation…”. Even knowing that, sometimes I’m just dense enough to follow through with my own choice, realizing that the heavens and I are on opposing sides of the issue at hand.
Somehow, even though Jesus and I are not seeing my choice the same, he still loves me…perfectly. It would be weird for Jesus to say, “Well, in order to love Brian, I have to change my view of dishonesty so that he feels better about it.” Also, it would be odd if Jesus said, “I’ll love Brian, but right after I force him to see things my way.” And, it would equally weird for me to demand that Jesus love me by changing his view on dishonesty. That would be me demanding that I get to define his love for me. He can love me and disagree with me at the same time. That’s one of the great things about Jesus.
If I am striving to be like Jesus, I have to strive to do what he does. I have to learn to love those that I don’t agree with. I don’t have to change my whole set of core beliefs to love someone who doesn’t agree with those beliefs. But I do have to try to love them. And I think that my religion requires that I strive to love them. Recently, the First Presidency instructed members of the church this way:
The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility—even when we disagree. (OFFICIAL STATEMENT — 10 JANUARY 2014)
And even though we may not see eye-to-eye on certain topics that we both feel strongly about, life is full of topics, situations, circumstances, and choices that we really do agree on, so I need to remember that. The Savior watches me and my choices and surely doesn’t agree with some of them. Although he is not going to “come to my side” of the issue, he will continue to love me and desire that I come home. Can’t I do the same? I’m not perfect at it at all. But I’m working on it.