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For as long as I can remember I've been an opinionated person. Growing up I had an opinion about absolutely everything - most often it was an opinion or belief that I picked up from somewhere else, i.e. someone I admired, a famous person, church, friends, even my parents. Now that is not all bad -- after all, that is how we learn early on. Yet there were things that happened in my life growing up that challenged some of my opinions, sometimes causing me to question something altogether. Those challenges were growing times, because rather than becoming stubborn and standing on "it's my right to have this opinion" I had to expand and learn exactly what my opinion or belief was based on. There were even some of those early opinions or beliefs that once I really studied into and couldn't find a basis for them, I changed my stance altogether. As we grow up we should have a basis for our opinions and beliefs that is a lot deeper than "well so-and-so said it was this way so that's what my opinion should be."
As a parent, when my children were little I would teach them things...things such as right and wrong, good and bad. And I tried to stay with the facts. But then they were also learning from my opinions and beliefs... religiously, politically and just about things with life in general. Yet as they got old enough to understand and question, I always encouraged them to KNOW what they believed and WHY they believed in it. I didn't want the basis of their belief to be because it was what my parents taught me. So they were challenged to learn and study on their own. To read the news articles, study history, and look at the facts about politics and make their own decision about what they feel it fair and unfair, right and wrong... and just where they stand on their views. And just the same, they were challenged to learn and know the Bible and see WHAT and WHY they believe what they say they believe. Most importantly, they were challenged to know the WHO they said they believed in.
Now I have friends in my life who believe all kinds of things, and some of those I just really do not support the same beliefs. I love those friends -- would do just about anything for them. But that doesn't change that I truly believe they are investing their life believing in the wrong things... following the wrong god. And I pray that my life, and the love that I try to show through my life, will touch their heart and cause them to question if maybe there is something more than what they've been holding on to. The simple fact is: just because someone chooses to believe something it doesn't make it right. If there is not SUBSTANTIAL proof to back it up, then it may just be a selfish opinion. I base my beliefs on the Bible in it's entirety. It's really an "all or nothing" kind of thing, whether we like that or not! So I can't decide that I will agree with my friends' stance on some things (homosexuality, adultery, cheating, lying, etc.) if in my heart I know that it's against WHAT I base my true beliefs on. Otherwise, I would just be showing that I really don't believe what I say I do. Does that make any sense? But - does that mean that I can't truly love my friend? Wow - not at all! Some of my best friends have beliefs that I just cannot support... and I don't look down on them or feel sorry for them, but I do pray for them. They may never choose to see anything in any way but how they want to see them - and that is their choice. We all have a choice. But I have to stand by what I say I believe in.
What I can tell you, whether our opinions and beliefs are the same or completely different, is that contrary to popular and politically correct argument, there is just no way to argue away absolute truth. We can NOT like that it is that way, but we can't make it go away. The argument for relativism ends up proving itself wrong in the end.
Whether you and I believe in the same things or are on different pages altogether, if you are someone I've called "friend" then you are a friend indeed. Just know what you believe... and know why. Make sure your why is a lot deeper than "it's just right for me" because that doesn't make a lot of sense in the end. There are some pretty bad people out there in this world who believe in what they are doing... so have a better WHY than that. And know this: I would never do or say anything to hurt someone intentionally. I believe we all have struggles, differences, hurts and experiences that no one else on this earth can ever understand... and we need to love one another through those time. I simply challenge you to know where your beliefs come from and from what they are based.