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Please note the following is an excerpt from the book, “Jesus’ Prayer from A to Z”, of which I’m Editor.
- L - Learn To Disagree Without Being Disagreeable, by
Leggett, Marshall J
Jesus’ disciples were not immune to disagreements. “It is for them that I
pray.” (John 17:9 WB) Jesus prayed for the disciples with him and for those who
were to come, even to our day. A large part of the prayer was for the unity of his
followers, “that they may be one”. (17:11) Sometimes disagreements deepen into
separation with good reason, but we must be careful that division does not come just
from negative attitudes and disagreeable spirits. Christians must “make every effort
to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3) to fulfill Jesus’
prayer. May I remind you of someone I had the privilege of working with early in my
ministry who lived that principle?
P. H. Welshimer was without peer among Christian Church ministers during
the first half of the 20th Century. He ministered with First Christian Church of Canton,
Ohio, and saw it grow to become one of the largest churches in America. He was a
staunch believer in the ideal to restore the church to New Testament faith and practice.
He believed that was the best foundation upon which to discuss Christian unity on
the basis of the Bible. He took a strong stand for that position when Modernism
struck at the reliability of scripture. He never compromised.
But there was another side to Welshimer I had the privilege to observe as
his Associate for several years - an irenic side. He was the first person I heard use the
admonition, disagree without being disagreeable. Being disagreeable is an attitude
problem where one tends to be argumentative, quarrelsome, contrary, and generally
unpleasant - like the language professor said to have been born in the negative mood
and the objective case! Welshimer believed that a person may have strong convictions
based on good reason without being contentious. He grieved over the impending
division among Christian Churches, and kept open doors of reconciliation, even to
those with whom he had deep disagreement. Welshimer was a statesman.
There is Biblical precedent for those who will disagree without being
disagreeable. Paul fell out with Mark when the young man dropped out of their first
missionary journey. But in his last epistle to Timothy, Paul wrote, “Get Mark and
bring him with you, for he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (II Timothy 4:11) Again,
Paul disagreed sharply with Barnabas and Peter over their separation from Gentile
believers (Galatians 2:11-16), but the aim of his confrontation was not to
disfellowship, but rather to restore full fellowship.
Early leaders of the Restoration Movement provide examples of disagreeing
without being disagreeable. Alexander Campbell disagreed with Barton W. Stone
over many doctrinal elements, including the Atonement, and also about which name
was to be preferred, “Disciples” or “Christians”; but that did not keep the two groups
from joining “the right hand of fellowship” in 1832. Walter Scott and Campbell had a
disagreement, but when Scott died, Campbell wrote a beautiful eulogy that includes
these words, “I knew him well. I knew him long. I loved him much.”
Peter wrote, “Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks for
you to give a reason for the hope you have. But do this >with gentleness and respect,
keeping a clear conscience,< so that those who speak maliciously against your good
behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (I Peter 3:15, emphasis mine)
Is not Peter saying in effect, “Disagree without being disagreeable”? Have strong
convictions based on scripture and good reason, but express them with gentleness
and respect, keeping a clear conscience.
Let us pray: Father, grant that the Word of Christ may dwell in us so
richly that we will have strong convictions rooted in that Word; but grant us a
full measure of your Spirit, that we may speak the truth in love, with gentleness
and respect, keeping a clear conscience. Through Christ our Lord. Amen
Leggett, Dr. Marshall - Aledo, TX - Chancellor, Past President, Milligan College, TN (1982-1997). Native of NC. Educated at Milligan College (B.A.), Butler U. (M.A.), Christian Theological Seminary (M.Div). Three honorary doctorates: Midwest C.C., Kentucky C.C., and Milligan. 1971 NACC President. Author of Genuine Ministers and An Introduction To the Restoration Ideal. He and wife Jean have two daughters.
Beloved, let us love one another:
for love is of God;
and everyone who loves
is begotten of God, and knows God.
He that loves not, knows not God;
for God is love.
I John 4:7,8
Does my love for others pass the I Corinthians 13 test?
Read that chapter, substituting your name for love.
Note where it has the ring of truth, and where it doesn’t.
Pray Jesus’ prayer for:
Laborers/ Law officers
Pray Jesus’ prayer for:
Believers in Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho,
Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein,
Lithuania, LuxembourgThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Tom (Jn.17:21) M.,
Fellowship of John 17:21
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