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Finding Faith: Finding common ground

CAPTAIN HOLLY JOHNSON

It has been a privilege and blessing to be able to write these articles for The Express newspaper.

I am merely one of many pastors who preach and teach the gospel here in Clinton County. In my three years here as the pastor and administrator for The Lock Haven Salvation Army, I have met some great fellow pastors. We all come from different denominations and backgrounds. Some are what they call “nondenominational” and some are affiliated with a specific church denomination.

Some are called reverend, pastor, bishop, father, and in my case, captain. These mere titles we go by are different yet are no more significant than the other. There are things and situations in life that are not affiliated with what I like to call a “Heaven or Hell” matter. Meaning that there are things and opinions that won’t matter someday when we are all in Heaven together.

Some examples: there are those who believe that only a certain translation of the Bible is the only translation you should read, while others see different translations are helpful. Some believe that only men should have the responsibility in standing up at the pulpit to preach a sermon, while others believe that God calls women to preach.

Some folks believe women should never wear pants, while others kick back in their jeans and worship God just the same. Some feel churches should be opened for in person services and should have never closed during the pandemic, while others see it as a measure of safety and perhaps opportunities for ministry to be tried in a whole new way. Some might be offended in reading this very article I have just published today, and others will see my point of reason. I digress.

Whether you or I believe these items are wrong or right is not my point. The point I intend to make is that they are different points of view. Will many of these mere differences “make or break” our way into Heaven? My belief is no.

Your belief might be quite different, and that’s alright if we keep it respectful. I recently met one of my older brothers who I never had the opportunity to meet growing up. His name is Dana and we have had the most interesting conversations on the phone in getting to know each other.

We are both believers and in getting to know one another, we have come to realize that there are some things that we differ in opinion on, but we respect each other through it, laugh, and keep the conversations loving and peaceful. We joke with each other and have said things like, “I love you, but I know I am right.”

All joking aside, did you know there is an actual way to hear someone out and peacefully disagree with them?

1 Corinthians 9:22-23 reads, “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” NLT.

Romans 14:19 reads, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” NIV

God’s word calls for peace, love, common ground, and shows the importance of meeting people where they are at, just as Jesus would.

We are sometimes so eager to speak our opinion before we listen, which robs us of the opportunity to understand, grow, love, sometimes laugh, and find common ground. Our opinion is not THE ONLY opinion, and it’s too easy in our society to cancel someone out or ostracize them because of differences.

When is the last time you heard someone out and gave them a chance to share their opinion? I urge you today to ponder on that very question. I encourage you to listen before you speak, see people past their differences, meet people where they are at, find common ground, and above all else show love. If they are wrong, what’s the harm in loving them anyway?

In Heaven someday, there will be so many things we will discover that didn’t matter, and we will have wasted precious breath and time trying to be right instead of showing someone what accepting Jesus as Savior looks like. What matters most isn’t winning or swaying our opinions on someone, but winning others to accept Jesus in their lives, so they can be in Heaven someday too.

Be blessed today friends!

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Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Captain Holly Johnson of Salvation Army Chapel, Lock Lock Haven.

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