Did you know that opinions are dangerous? Many (most?) of the divisions between churches and church members today are because of differences of opinion. Jesus’ prayer was for the church to be one (John 17:20-21), yet here we are 2000 years later divided into literally thousands of different denominations.
We divide over doctrine, music, church structure, food, and style of service – just to name a few of the bigger issues. I once read about a denomination that began partially because someone wanted to sing bass and the denomination he was in felt that singing in parts was too secular. (I bet there is a church somewhere today arguing about whether to sing worship music in 2 or 3 parts. “But they only use two part harmony on the recording…”)
I recently read a sermon delivered in 1879 by George MacDonald. He used as his text Philippians 3:15-16.
Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
MacDonald’s main points were these:
- Opinions are necessary.
- No one is perfectly wise (except God). Therefore, no one is perfect in their opinions.
- Opinions are not dangerous as long as we allow them to be changed.
- Opinions are dangerous when we refuse to allow them to be changed.
- The most dangerous opinions are those that are second hand opinions, but we are unwilling to change them.
- Even worse are opinions we feel we must force upon someone else.
- The best thing to do with our opinions is live them.
Paul was content to allow God to work in others who held a different opinion. Paul taught the truth, but then placed the results in God’s hands.
I found his insight into second hand opinions to be so true. Our most dangerous opinions are those we hold even though they come from someone else. We developed the opinion because of a trusted teacher or friend or maybe we just picked it up as part of our upbringing or social group. But for some reason we have a tendency to hold these opinions stronger than our own, even though we have never stopped to truly study why we believe them.
All this leads me to wonder:
- Am I willing to change my opinions or do I think I have it all figured out?
- What second hand opinions have a strong influence on my life?
- Am I living my opinions more than I speak them?
- Do I speak/teach my opinions in love?
- Am I trying to force my opinions on anyone?
- Am I willing to consider that I am wrong and someone else is right in their opinion?
It seems like the arena where opinion does the most harm is religion and politics.
What do you think? Do you agree with George MacDonald or do you have a different view (opinion)? I found this very insightful. I would love to hear your thoughts.