After the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, his fellow justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote about his passing and described the two of them as “best buddies.” They had been friends a long time. They ate meals together. Their families vacationed together. They attended the opera together. This all in spite of the fact that Scalia was a staunch conservative and Ginsburg a staunch liberal. They had sharp disagreements over some of the cases they tried together. They had different philosophies regarding the law, but they maintained a close friendship.
Their admirable friendship stands out as unfortunately unique in this day when too many people look at those who have different beliefs than they do as an enemy to fear and defeat. I expect a lot of those who admired Scalia and share his beliefs would only have dinner with Ginsburg if they could tell her how wrong they think she is. Likewise some of those who admire Ginsburg would want no part of sitting down to a meal of good Italian food with Scalia.
Jesus shocked the religious leaders of His day when He went to a dinner party at the home of Matthew the tax collector. “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?'” (Matthew 9:13). They wouldn’t have dreamed of eating with such people.
Jesus spoke strongly against those religious leaders, and yet when one of them invited Him to dinner Jesus “went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table” (Luke 7:36). Jesus disagreed with this Pharisee, Simon, and even during the meal Jesus pointed out how Simon wasn’t doing things God’s way. But Jesus was still willing to go there and talk with him.
Scalia and Ginsburg talked of how they wrote better opinions on cases because they had been challenged and tested by the other. We miss out on growth opportunities if we only interact with people who think just like we do. My faith in Jesus has been strengthened when I’ve been asked tough questions by people who don’t believe like I do and I’ve had to think through the answers.
Those who differ from us in their spiritual or political beliefs or in other areas are not to be viewed as the enemy we run from or try to conquer. The Bible calls on us to view each person as somebody loved by God and valuable to Him. We seek to understand them and what’s going on in their lives and why they believe as they do. Those of us who trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior hope for the opportunity to explain why we believe as we do and why we are convinced that trusting in Jesus is the best possible way for each person to live. The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins so that each one who believes in Him is given a place at God’s great table of grace.