In his first letter to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul says (in Eugene Peterson's translation The Message): "I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I'll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common." (I Corinthians 1:10)…
We live in a time when there are too many conflicts, too little cooperation, and too few people who are willing to get along. Simple courtesy, the ability to compromise, and the willingness to think of the larger good -- those things seem to be in short supply. We are reaching the point where the very social fabric is coming unraveled…
I suggest the following steps for each of us and all of us to take:
1. Start by saying "I could be wrong" when expressing your opinions. That simple caveat allows room for the other person to have a different opinion. And it is also the truth – we may well be wrong, even when we have a strong opinion.
2. Practice stating opposing opinions without labeling or cynicism. The ability to explain positions with which we disagree means that we have truly listened and learned. It also makes it more likely that we will convince others to consider our opinion.
3. Agree to disagree without becoming disagreeable. There is nothing which says we must always agree, but our disagreeing can be civil and polite.
4. Don't go thermo-nuclear on every issue. Most issues are not ultimate, so don't ramp up the rhetoric on every little thing.
5. Allow God to speak for Himself and don't presume God agrees with you on every one of your opinions.
Will these five steps eliminate all of the divisions and violence in our society and all the divisions in our churches? Of course not. But we must start somewhere. As the Apostle Paul says, "We must get along with each other." We must.
-- U.M. Bishop Mike Coyner, from the Indiana Conference website