In the Christian communities, many people seem to be in the divides and outside the divide they don’t want to identify with other folks probably because they have some minor doctrinal disagreement. It hurts me that many times some denominations consider others their enemies on the basis of few disagreements. Our disagreement as believers isn’t bigger than our agreements and therefore we shouldn’t let the leaders influence us to hate who they hate or who doesn’t agree with them. We shouldn’t hate people because our pastors don’t like them.
In many families, siblings may disagree among themselves on certain things but it doesn’t stop them from being family. That we disagree on certain things can’t stop us from being brothers. I get shocked how we quickly term someone “antichrist” or even “demonic” just because he doesn’t share the same thought 100% with us and yet we both believe that salvation is only in Jesus! See, there are things that don’t add or remove to our salvation. We shouldn’t become enemies over those things!
Christians fight over how the baptism was done that it becomes more of a personal fight than the defence of the gospel. For instance, some Christians believe your salvation is not real because you have not been baptized by immersion and therefore once they realize it, they see you as an alien. But, should this cause us to fight? You believe in “sprinkling”, I believe in immersion and another believes it is no longer necessary. But we all believe salvation is only in Jesus and is based in the finished works of Christ. Then we are brothers! And we can work together to some extent, at least on the very things we agree. We preach Jesus together without having to bring in our disagreements on baptism. I have been invited to several organizations including Roman Catholic organizations to come and share the word of God with them. When I go there, I teach about Jesus knowing that the more we know Jesus, the more our doctrines are refined.
You believe in tithing and sowing seeds as a relevant New Testament practice and I don’t believe in those but I believe in unrestricted generous giving to support the work of the ministry. But we both believe that we are saved by Grace alone! Do we really have a very serious disagreement? No! We shouldn’t be enemies! We are brothers and when we are working together on a project, we can stay silent on what we disagree and enforce that which we agree on!
I am not saying voicing our disagreements is wrong because sometimes we need to be strong about our convictions so that others can know why we believe what we believe and maybe see if our views communicate Jesus in a better way. While we can voice out our disagreements, we can do it without hate and intentions to attack anyone’s personality. We can do that in love and we can even walk and work together on what we agree while discussions can still be open on what we disagree so that we can understand each other’s perspective from the light of the word.
You know Paul openly criticized Peter right? But it never made them enemies neither was it a basis to create distance. Paul’s open correction was not as a result of his hatred or envy for Peter but because of his convictions on the finished works of Jesus. Paul wasn’t trying to attack the personality of Peter but he wouldn’t stand and watch the works of Jesus get mocked. Let’s read that portion of the Bible and understand why it was important that Paul rebuked Peter
“But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong. Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favour of circumcising them. The other Jewish believers also started acting like cowards along with Peter, and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action. When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?” – Galatians 2:11-21
Peter’s actions misled other people who were looking up to him and Paul noted their actions were not in line with the truth of the gospel and he had to rebuke Peter but it never caused hatred among them! Peter had this to say later in his letter in 2 Peter 3:15 “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.” You see that? Peter never underrated Paul even after that rebuke that came from him. This is how it should be. Many people don’t admit they’re wrong belief because of pride, they don’t want it to look as though they were wrong because they want to always appear superior. It is God’s desire that we all walk in love because what divides us isn’t greater than what unites us. There will always be people who have the different belief from us and yet they are Lord’s followers. We should not reject them, we have to accept them not for any purpose of wanting to criticize them. And by fellowshipping with one another we keep growing into maturity.
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12
“Welcome all the Lord’s followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don’t criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours.” – Romans 14:1