Getting along with our Christian family

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By Jessica Brodie

Sunday dinners at Gram’s house were the stuff of sitcoms.

My uncles Mike and Gary would be debating politics with choice interjections from my mom and aunt. Grandma would be busy making sure everyone had enough salad or beef brisket, while we kids would drink ginger ale at the kids’ table from Gram’s fancy cranberry glasses and watch them banter, trying to figure out what it meant to be a real grownup. Grandpa would throw in a “now, Jeanne” or some inappropriate zinger, and my great-grandma, whom we all called Bubba since Uncle Gary couldn’t ever say “grandma” when he was little, would just smile and nod and start singing “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue.”

Sometimes those debates would escalate, and small tiffs could turn big. Interruptions were standard fare, and a lot of times the “winner” was the person whose voice was the loudest.

And then there was me—shy, rules-following, bookwormy me. Somehow I got the message from these family gatherings that I needed to be The Peacemaker in the family. It was “my job” to placate and listen, to smooth ruffled feathers and encourage everyone to patch things up, even if that was only in my head. I’d watch and think, “Now, you apologize,” or “You, give her a hug,” and silently applaud when it would happen and peace would again be restored.

Reading Romans 12 today reminds me of those dinners. The Apostle Paul gives us some good, practical advice on how to get along with each other as transformed Christians, including “don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think” (Romans 12:3 CEB), “Love each other like the members of your family” (Romans 12:10), and “Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying” (Romans 12:15).

But the key verse for me is, “If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people” (Romans 12:18).

Yes, peace is key to getting along with people and living a life in line with our transformed Christian selves. We’re all different—we have different political views and different theological convictions. We have different tastes in food and music and different ideas about what makes a funny joke.

But when we can come together with people like we do at a family dinner table, even a family as argument-prone as mine, and come away with our bonds still intact, we’re doing something right. We’re operating as God wishes.

Today, there’s so much debate about scripture and what Jesus really meant when he said X or Y or Z. But we’re all Christians, and we’re all connected as one big family. As children of God, we need to remember that. It’s fine to argue, and it’s fine to have different opinions.

But at the end of the day, we are all part of God’s family, all occupying seats at His table and rooms in His holy house.

Let’s remember to love each other like family, too.

What do you think—how can we successfully disagree with each other over things we feel are crucial? Is there a way to disagree and still live in peace?

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