Our Relationships with Each Other Are More Important Than Our Beliefs

Pastor Marvin Arnpriester

We are living in the most interesting of times, aren’t we? Voices seem to grow more and more strident. Tensions escalate pain and frustration, which highlight differences in understanding and perspective. This gives way to anger, hostility, and accusations. It happens in homes, in churches, in government, and in society at large. It sometimes evolves into violence, which tears apart and destroys individuals, relationships, families, and organizations.

Two quotations from John Wesley, our father in the faith, continue to ruminate in my mind, challenging me and my behaviors. I believe they can help us in the times in which we live. In a sermon on Religious Bigotry and a Catholic Spirit, he said, “But although a difference in opinions or modes of worship may prevent an entire external union, yet need it prevent our union in affection? Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences. These remaining as they are, they may forward one another in love and in good works.”

In another sermon, he said, “If your heart is as my heart … then give me your hand.”

In both these statements I hear him calling us to remember that our relationship with each other is more important than our beliefs. I believe people do not need or even want to know what I believe as much as they want to know if I accept and love them as they are without trying to change them to conform to my beliefs and standards.

May God grant us all to be agents and examples of peace and goodwill to each other.