1 Corinthians 1:10 (CSB)
Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.
Philippians 2:1-4 (CSB)
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Please re-read these two passages again. Both found in my devotions this morning and I’ve been scolded for my behavior as reading these passages the Holy Spirit pricked my memory of just this last Saturday morning. I made the acquaintance of brother in the Lord and we entered into a conversation that at some point made it to mention the practice of ‘speaking in tongues’.
It’s fairly reasonable to upon finding people with similar foundations to desire to underscore those similarities. Two Christians delving into the foundations of their faith it is no different. While it may be reasonable it isn’t always appropriate, especially when in doing so it belittles other brothers and sisters in the Lord.
This brother and I via our conversation discovered that we both felt that the practice of speaking in tongues was over played by certain fellowships. Stressing it much too much to be appropriate. We agreed that the events recorded in the book of Acts was a clear example that the gift of tongues was appropriately matched with a purpose; not just speaking out in a language that no one understood.
Innocent right? Wrong! Very wrong!
Read those two passages again considering what we are doing to the Body of Christ when we are critical of others who practice their faith in Jesus Christ somewhat differently from us. It’s not wrong to have different understanding of the scriptures. What is wrong is what I and this brother did Saturday morning as we both jointly looked down our noses at other believers. Believers who even though they believe that we are saved by faith, believe in the cleansing blood of Christ, believe in repentance follows Grace, in fact cover all of the major articles of faith that we do, but may have differing beliefs and practices in areas which are of minor consequence in comparison, are somehow not as ‘right’ as we are, is simply wrong.
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.”
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”
I remember years ago, as a boy, our pastor preached about ‘majoring on the minors’. You would think by now I would have learned that lesson well, but apparently as of Saturday morning I had not. The core principles of our faith based around the Gift of Salvation by Faith should never be over shadowed by being critical of other members of the Body of Christ.
Yes it is perfectly okay to discuss our differences in what we believe outside of the fundamentals of our faith, but when we cross from merely denoting the differences to a position of ‘us vs them’ we have crossed a line too far. That doesn’t edify the Body of Christ, it works against the Body.
It’s much more edifying to immerse ourselves in prayer and devotion to the Word, which is constructive to the Body. Being critical of other components of the Body is destructive. Indeed doing so we are acting against Christ’s body! Attacking another believer is to attack another part of the Body of Christ.
Instead we are to focus on those things which make us His. If you really believe that there is a critical fault in another’s belief then pray that God provide you guidance in dealing with this inequity that exists between you. It may, or may not be your role in accordance to God’s will to underscore this supposed short coming. That revelation is always going to come as a result of action by the Holy Spirit. How the Holy Spirit does that is not our business. If the Spirit wishes for us to be involved in a Devine appointment with the individual(s) in question, then that will be reviled to us. But speaking out behind the back of these fellow believers is beneath what He calls us to.
The Holy Spirit teaches us constantly, if we are willing to listen. None of us are in the same place in our spiritual development. The lessons learned yesterday may be the lesson you are learning today or in the reverse. You may be taught a lesson that I may never be brought under the instruction of the Spirit.
In many ways we are like drop cookies. We all contain the same ingredients. The Master has included in us the exact proportions to make us the followers of Christ He desires. This master baker may drop a bit more dough for one cookie verses the next one that may have less. He may bake us with trials to the point of being a deepened brown and crispy or only expose us to sufficient heat that we remain pliable inside. He has a plan for each of us, which fulfills His will for us.
Jeremiah 29:11 (CSB)
For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Unlike the cookie scenario, we each have free will as part of this recipe and free will is a fickle ingredient. When free while is surrendered to the Masters will, then those plans He has made for us are manifested in blessings that surmount even the most heated trials. But when our free will is used by us to establish our own path then the sweetness of the cookie is compromised.
It is those ‘half baked’ cookies that tear at the Body of Christ and inflict damage where they should be providing nourishment.
When it’s ‘not my church’, when I don’t believe exactly the way ‘they’ do what they do, when I find myself drawing a division between their worship and mine; I sin. I sin because I don’t build up the Body of Christ. I sin because I do not, cannot know, their heart as Jesus does. So let it never be ‘Not My Church’ as the Jesus’s Church is one body under His direction.
This isn’t to say that there are not those who follow an agnostic gospel.
1 Timothy 6:3-5 (CSB)
If anyone teaches false doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain.
A teaching which doesn’t place Christ at its heart, which doesn’t embrace the sacrifice made by Jesus for the atonement of sin, that doesn’t hold that repentance is an imperative demonstration of genuine faith. Those are not part of the Body of Christ; they are deceptions of the evil one.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (CSB)
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.
But if you claim your heavenly birthright by faith in the gift of the Son of God who is the human form of the Word of God then THAT’s My Church!
John 1:12-13 (CSB)
But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.