The world is more and more divided these days, polarized on every issue from faith to politics. For the faithful, God is an integral part of every aspect of our lives. But sometimes it seems as if the world is becoming more faithless every day. While some politicians strive to secure God’s place in our traditions, others choose to reject religious life entirely, and we are left wondering what the world will soon become.
But that doesn’t necessarily make the goal of living a godly life impossible. We can still be faithful and live according to our convictions even when the world around us may snicker. There are some basic principles we can live by to make sure we can both practice our faith and coexist harmoniously with those that do not share our faith.
One key idea is learning to tolerate each other even when we disagree. Regardless of where you live, decent people will usually accept you and your beliefs as long as you are respectful and understanding of their opinions as well. As the golden rule goes, “treat others the way you want to be treated.” Be accepting of others, and others will generally be accepting of you.
That’s the starting point. But being tolerant doesn’t mean you have to hide who you are or what you stand for.
Here are 3 principles I use for living a godly life in a divided world where that may be difficult at times:
1) Don’t be afraid to express your world views
It can be daunting to express your world and/or religious views in places where the majority seem to be hold an opposing perspective. For example, as a conservative, while you may agree with your liberal friends on some political issues, in matters of faith you may run into some difficulties. However, don’t let those differences shut you down; don’t be afraid to express yourself. You should never hide or change who you are as a person just because the society around you expects you to. At the end of the day, if you are being honest with yourself, you’re always going to disagree with somebody about something. And no amount of good-faith conversation or discussion will change the other person’s mind. Don’t let that stop you from being who you truly are.
2) Be understanding
As society has changed over the past several decades, atheism and general skepticism of God have become more and more common. While your convictions are extremely important to you, you still should try to be understanding and empathetic to the views of others. As people of God, love is supposed to be our primary calling card, even when we disagree. And please, for the love of God, learn to take a joke. There is a clear difference between people discriminating against you versus them cracking a joke at your expense, even if it includes your faith. Even if it crosses the line for you, as long as it’s not egregious, you’re probably better off playing along or deflecting. Stand up for yourself of course, but don’t let a minor jab get too far under your skin. You’re almost always better off taking the high road.
3) Don’t lose your faith
This may be the most important tip I have. Although the world around us may in some instances test our faith, I have learned that staying true to God has always been the better option. You can change the world, don’t let the world change you. Every time I have ever been challenged in my life, I have always found that God, at the end of the day, will protect me. He’s never failed me, and I know he won’t fail you either.
With these principles, I’ve learned to both be who I am and enjoy the people around me who think differently than me. A diverse world is a better world. I truly believe that. Be who you are, let God guide you, and learn to live with people who don’t believe or see things the way you do. I promise that you will live a happier and more fulfilled life.