Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Our Disunity Hurts Christ

I was listening the other day to a Christian commentator whom I have listened to infrequently for the last year or two. This gentleman who shall remain nameless in this post, generally provides sound biblical principles, delivers his remarks with apparent humility and comes across as an earnest representative for the furthering of Jesus Christ. I preface my remarks in this way, because I do think such a description is a necessary part of presenting God’s Word in a matter that is consistent with biblical direction: But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:16-18 NIV)

I must say then that it was with dismay when I heard this same commentator “attack” fellow Christians who happen to differ philosophically on a certain matter of biblical doctrine. Of such differing fellow Christians, a guest on his radio show kept referring to those Christians who differed on this biblical doctrine as “these people”. These people? Fellow Christians are to be referred to as “these people”? I thought “these people” were one in the same with you – a fellow Christian. Unfortunately, the commonality of being one in Jesus Christ is not significant enough to prevent some from sniping, backbiting and expressing harsh feelings among many Christian individuals or groups. This denomination doesn’t get along with that denomination; this doctrine is at odds with that doctrine; this group believes it’s wrong to eat this while some other “competing” group thinks it’s wrong to preach a certain way. Unfortunately, in the midst of all this, millions of unsaved souls look on with bemusement, ridicule or disdain. Unsaved family members are hardened against the good news of the gospel because what they see in us, demonstrate more divineness and division within the body of Christ than the unity that is so much a part of Christ’s message: As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 NIV) Here our Lord through His Apostle Paul urges us (fellow Christians) to live a life WORTHY of the calling of Christ. We can’t be living a worthy life by publicly referring to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as “these people”! Paul goes on to tell us to “bear with one another”. Not every Christian is going to do things that please other Christians. We are still human beings after all. Human beings saved by the grace of God, but still full of the same weaknesses in the flesh that wars against our souls. We unfortunately are also subject to many different teachings about God. Many that appears to be contradictory. We take these teachings into our biblical worldview and the results at times are competing ideologies. But God has a verse for us about this eventuality: Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. (Romans 14:1 NIV). The Lord had this verse of scripture prepared for us “enlightened” Christians to be careful about questioning the faith of those who are not as “bright” as we are. He states that we should accept others who’s views may differ. They may view me as weak or I may view them as weak, but above all we must accept each other for the glory of Christ!

A thorough study of the Bible reveals only one undisputable matter: Christ died so that all mankind could live for eternity with Him in peace! This gospel is the primary undisputable tenet of Christianity. Beyond that, virtually everything else may be subject to dispute, differing interpretations or strenuous disagreement by Christians of passioned reasoning. To be certain, there are other tenets of biblical doctrine that I personally view as being indisputable. However, others may disagree. And as such, I cannot be true to Christ’s direction if my disagreements degrade into public ridicule or condemnation of adherents who feel differently than I do. To what end? Just to prove that I am biblically sound and the next person may not be? To ensure that more people follow my brand of biblical doctrine as opposed to someone else who may feel differently? In the process, if the cause of Christ is damaged, so what if I win the battle of competing doctrines. As long as Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the atonement of sins is undisputed, why damage His following over other “disputable” matters?

The absence of unity in the body of Christ has got to be one of the most perplexing issues in Christianity. The Bible states clearly: Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15 NIV) As I am writing this post, believe me when I say that the Holy Spirit is talking to me as much as He may be speaking to you. I myself have to continue to fight my flesh’s desire to be anything but loving to fellow Christians who may have at one point or another said or done something to me that I don’t like or agree with. Just as I must fight the temptation for disunity, we all must as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ! Can we do less for the God who hung on a tree so that we may be reconciled back to Him?

A God who sends people to Hell?