Differences of Opinion on Worship in the Church: How Should We Respond?

Definitions of "opinion"

1. Judgment or belief that is not founded on certainty or proof.

2. The prevaling and poupular feeling (public opinion)

3. Evaluation, impression, or estimation of the value or worth of a person or thing.

5. An evalutation or judgment given by an expert (medical opinion)

Opinions, opinions, opinions

Opinions have their place in life. I have more opinions than I know what to do with (although some would disagree, ha ha). Most often opinions are subjective and not completely trustworthy. And yet, there is no one in the world who does not have an opinion on something. What we do with our opinions is the important issue. In fact, Romans 14 talks about this very thing:

Verse one says “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. (opinions).

The whole chapter, and this verse specifically, is talking about allowing people to have their own opinions and not to use differences of opinion to criticize or condemn one another. I love how the NKJ version says "over doubtful things." Sometimes we think something is black or white and therefore think our opinion or argument is the right one. This creates quarrels and division.

The Handbook for life
The Handbook for life

"You can never argue anyone into the kingdom of heaven; you cannot argue anyone any where. The only result of arguing is to prove to your own mind that you are right and the other fellow wrong. You cannot argue for truth; but immediately Incarnate Truth is presented, a want awakens in the soul which only God can meet." ~ Oswald Chambers The Moral Foundation

The law of liberty

For most of my life I didn’t know I had opinions. I thought everyone else must have received a handbook on what is right to think, and for some reason I didn’t receive my copy. On the rare occasion that an opinion surfaced and I shared it with someone, if they had another perspective I felt stupid and ashamed for being wrong. Where I got the idea that I was wrong just because someone had a different opinion, I don’t know. By the time I was in my late 40’s, my ability to formulate and express my opinions became a common occurrence. It was empowering to use this freedom. As time went by, it began to take on a life of its own. I’m not wrong for having or expressing my opinion, it is how I use it and why.

Paul did have the handbook on this (God’s word, inspired by the Holy Spirit), and since it was published, I now I have my own copy. He goes on to say in chapter 14, “ One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. (vs

God is saying it’s okay to have a firm opinion (or convinced in your own mind, as Paul puts it) about days of devotion to God and food they eat unto God, or vice versa. If you feel you need to worship on Saturday, great, go Saturday and enjoy. But if someone is a Sunday worshiper, don't condemn or argue. Some people get all worked up about this issue. It separates and divides. Then, everyone's worship is tarnished because there is resentment of the heart.

He then says that if you are of the opinion that a certain food is honoring to God, then focus on that, not what the other is eating, because he too does what he does to honor God with thanks.

This isn’t about sin against God. He is talking about the way people worship according to their convictions. And then he gets to the crux of the matter: “So why do you condemn and look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of GodSo let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”


Bottom line is give each other freedom to do unto the Lord as they feel convinced to do.

How do you handle strong differences of opinion at church?

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Seek harmony and love

We all have very definitive opinions on what worship and church should look like. Seeing people sitting in the pews drinking coffee once grieved my heart. I feel a worship service is a place to worship without distraction of food or drink. We have fellowship time for this. I let this upset me from sadness and grief, to anger and condemnation, and I allowed it to distract my worship time. I spent every Sunday seething. Other people are of the opinion that a pastor should only wear a suit and tie, and others were perfectly comfortable with more casual attire. Older people sometimes get upset because they feel the music is too loud, modern, and irreverent. Such opinions can turn into harsh criticism, and before we know it hardly anyone is focused on worship; rather everyone is focused on what others are doing that is different from what they believe is correct.

So how does a church resolve issues like this? I still am not crazy about coffee in the worship service, although hundreds of churches do it. But I realize now, in the vast scheme of things, it's not a hill to die on. What is more important to me now is how wonderful, how marvelous, is my Savior's love for me (and my brother's and sisters).

Paul reminds us:For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.”

Now one could say that those who drink coffee in the sanctuary, those who wear casual attire, and those that worship with loud music are causing others to stumble, which Paul admonishes us not to do. But perhaps we could also see it as a stumbling block to myself and others when we start imposing our personal convictions on each other. It starts with me. If this were an issue of essential Christian doctrine, or blatant sin, that would be another matter. I am in sin when I argue, condemn, and focus on what others are doing rather than on God, who is good and holy.

In verse 20, Paul tells us not to tear apart the work of the church on such matters. There can be liberty to an extent, and grace. The world will see Jesus’ love if we in the Body love one another.

© 2011 Lori Colbo

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Comments 14 comments

Eddie-Perkins 5 years ago

Very well stated Lori. Thank you for sharing. Vote up and useful ~ eddie


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

You did indeed write this up well. Opinions can become mountains of conflict. I remember a friend telling me how women in her church were having feuds over the flowers in the sanctuary then she invited me to come on Sunday. I politely declined. If something is a matter of Scripture it should be addressed. A matter of clothing type or something silly is just that. As long as we are modest, God doesn't care about our clothing, hair, etc. So my opinion can never be allowed to become important or even worse, judgement.


skye2day profile image

skye2day 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains

You used discernment in your writing style. Awesome works. I guess if we are in Christ my opinion I would hope that the gift of discernment abounds in all of our affairs. I know my thinking has certainly been transformed since I started my walk with Jesus and not on my own accord. It has been an inside job. Many Blessings you Keep on and you will Phil 4:13. Up awesome sister


lambservant profile image

lambservant 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Hyphenbird and Skye2day, you are right about discernment. It is much needed in all of our Christian living. Thank you for your kind comments. And blessings back at you.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

LS,

Very niocely done and to the point! I'm glad you included the line. "If this were an issue of essential Christian doctrine, or blatant sin, that would be another matter." We are also told to contend for the faith, and that we must do. Thanks for sharing.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

Good point. I actually thought this was going to be directed towards YOUR children, instead of everyone (God's children). It was an interesting message, and one we could all hear.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

lambservant: Well said dear sister. We all have opinions some agree with others some don't. When an opinion is of God or from God, He Himself will re-enforce it and help those who desire to know Him see what is what. This is why it is good practice to try and be agreeable.


David Han 4 years ago

I share similar sentiments. The real problem starts when believers not only give me conflicting opinions on many issues (e.g. church matters, the work that we have as our employment), but expects me to follow them. How is that possible? I cannot possibly please and follow everyone. And when I do follow one of their opinions, someone else would be unhappy. What should I do?


lambservant profile image

lambservant 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

I HEAR YOU DAVID. WE HAVE TO FOLLOW AND DO THINGS AND GOD LEADS US.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 3 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

Great hub, and sorely needed in the Christian world today. There is a lot judging based on non-essentials. I like how you came to understand that a personal preference like no coffee in the sanctuary during worship (I'm with you on that) should not get in the way of our own worship or of our being on one accord with our brothers and sisters. Thanks!


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Thanks for stopping by Ron, I appreciate your comments. I am awfully glad the coffee issue is over. God is so worthy of our praise.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

My hub done for you is number one in the top 100 in Hp community hublove. I hope I did not offend you in any way that I did the hub or if there is something you wish me to add I would be glad to. Mostly we are pointing out hubbers we think need more attention who are great writers here.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

My goondess Jackie it was a great honor. I thank you for your support.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

OK, great, glad you liked it. Hope it has brought some in to check out your hubs. I would love to get back to some more of them myself. Will try very soon.

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