Unity among Christians is vital. No doubt, there are some things we should divide over. The inerrancy of Scripture, the humanity/deity of Jesus, Trinity, the Gospel, salvation, etc. If there are groups who deny the inerrancy of Scripture, the person of Jesus, the Trinitarian nature of God, the content and power of the Gospel or salvation by grace alone through faith alone we must separate from them.
However, disturbing trends can creep in among Christians who agree on the “majors”, that is the major doctrines that define the boundaries of orthodox Christianity.
Paul calls Satan, in 2 Corinthians 2, a “schemer”. Sometimes, Satan can take a “minor”, that is a minor doctrine that should not define fellowship, and use it to stir up strife and create disunity and a lack of love.
Make sure you are not killing solidarity among Christians my making “minors” into “majors”.
There are a number of other schemes. I’d like to share some with you. Think on these and see if you are a victim of a scheme and killer of unity.
1. Make minor doctrinal issues into major doctrinal issues.
Dude, its ok to disagree on minors and agree on majors and still lock arms in Gospel work. See Whitfield and Wesley. One preached the other’s funeral and both vehemently disagreed on the doctrines of grace.
Frankly, take a look at our church, Three Rivers Community Church. We are an eclectic blend of new Christians, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Charasmatics and hybrids of all these. We hold some pretty hard distinctives among us while being clear on what we believe corporately as a church. We try to major on the majors and minor on the minors and hold real high, Jesus person and work, the Gospel.
The only explanation for that is Holy Spirit unifying his church. Unity among diversity can be a reality, but it takes clarity on distinctives and a willingness to put aside minors and hold up majors and be clear what those are.
2. Assume the worse about a fellow Christian
Never assume because you can make an…
Well, you know. Please don’t believe anything based on “he said she said…”. The bottom line is that if you have some questions about a fellow Christian’s thinking, acting or speech, then ask them about it and do it with gentleness and respect.
3. Hypocritically judge each other
Remember, Jesus never said not to judge. He said not to judge hypocritically. Read Matthew 7 carefully. One can only see what is in another’s eye and help them remove it if they are looking. Jesus just warned to make sure each of us removes the same problem we see in others before we go and help them remove that problem. And this assumes that it’s a problem we see in the first place.
If I have a problem with using God’s money to waste on unnecessary stuff and am up to my eyeballs in debt and can’t give to the church and you are equally in debt and don’t give, you have no right to tell me to sell one of my boats. Hypocrite! First sell your boat and then you can see clearly to help me learn how to budget.
4. Don’t allow for Holy Spirit Conscience
Paul addressed the Romans on eating food and drinking wine and never rebuked either one for their abstaining or their indulgence. He rebuked them for not being in unity. The mandate is to love, be in unity and allow for each other’s Holy Spirit informed conscience to dictate their indulgence or abstinence of food and drink. We are not to divide over such trivial things. We are to care for each other’s conscience and each other’s needs while not allowing our freedom or compelling be spoken of as evil when it is not. Unity in diversity on minor issues.
5. Back bite each other with venom and vigor
Hey, nothing will kill the atmosphere among Christians quicker than complaining about another Christian to someone else and never working toward understanding and fellowship. Go ahead. Eat each other alive and watch where that one gets us.
You can feel it when you know one has been tearing you up to other people. You may never know a single thing said, but you can feel the spiritual residue. You know what I mean? You can see the people who the back biter spoke to distance themselves from you and you can just feel it. It’s spiritual cancer.
6. Telling other Christians everything you think they did/do wrong all the time
This is the opposite of having problems with one and telling others about it. You go to the poor soul and incessantly violate their ears with what you have a problem with that they do, and you do it as though you were being spiritual. Don’t be a moron. That is not encouragement. If you do this, you are driving a wedge between you and others and people will run when they see you coming or worse, they may take a poke at you. Hey, we are only human.
It take discernment on knowing what is worth dealing with face to face and what you just need to get over and not burden the person with. Having a problem with something one says or does is not warrant for telling them about it every time. If it were we would never have peace. Use discernment, prayer for and love for the other.
You get the picture?
By all means, if you don’t know the majors, you need some training. If you look at another as inferior because of your view and your perceived weakness of the other persons, you need training on how to be kind and gracious. But let us love each other who are sheep together of the Chief Shepherd and by all means, if a wolf invades, let’s shoot it together, but let us do it TOGETHER.