When Christians disagree… not if, but when, because we already do.
Dip me in a pool? Mist me three times? Is it His body; is it not? What’s that funny language you’re speaking to me in? Can my wife preach a sermon? Can I mow my grass on Sunday? Am I looking for an anti-christ, or has he already been here? Did God do all of the work… or must I make a choice? What’s that antiquated robe your preacher wears? Old hymns? Contemporary praise? Red carpet, green carpet, shag carpet, blue, there’s much, much more, shall I continue….
When Jesus petitioned this prayer, “…that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me (John 17:21),” did He envision the segregated Christian community that bears witness of His gospel in the world today?
Many of us find ourselves in one of two categories when handling all of the disagreements among professing believers: those who insist on a hardline approach where every belief is a gospel defining issue, and those who ignore our disagreements in the name of unity. I believe an argument can be made that neither position is biblical.
Instead, the Bible seems to categorize disagreements. There are times when it intervenes with the words, “it doesn’t matter,” such as Paul’s treatment of food regulations and holidays in his 14th chapter of Romans. Other times, acknowledging that many things do matter, we hear the words, “Brother, Sister… you’re wrong (1 Corinthians).” In these cases it’s worth noting that it is very possible to be wrong and still be a brother. Then we come to a letter such as the one to the Galatians where Paul concludes, “That’s another gospel.”
Wisdom is of course found in our discernment of knowing which disagreements belong in which category. In such wisdom… who knows, we may find unity.
By the way, some excellent conversations on this topic have been going on here at nebraskaenergyobserver and here at All Along the Watchtower. These series purpose to question the negative repercussions of our continued division.