If you belong to any Christian church I can guarantee that there will be someone in your church who will hold a different viewpoint to you in respect of some aspect of Christianity. Given that there are around 50,000 different Christian denominations which have evolved from early Christianity 2,000 years ago, it is obvious that different people interpret Bible passages in different ways, and have different opinions about the way services should be run, whether certain doctrines should be adhered to, and what traditions should be followed.
Dealt with in the right way, our differences can build us up. Dealt with in the wrong way, they can cause division and dissension. Should one attempt to reconcile differences or is it best to “let sleeping dogs lie”?
Once again, this is not a question for which I have an answer! There are as many opinions as there are Christians, and none of us have the answers 100%. I know what I think the answer is but many may disagree with me. The only person who knows all the answers is God. So what can we do if we are in a situation where division threatens to spoil unity?
Firstly, remember what you have in common with other Christians, and use this as a starting point for any discussions. Most Christians will believe that:
- The Bible is the Word of God
- Jesus is the Son of God
- The Bible speaks of the Second Coming of Jesus
- Jesus wants us to remember his death and resurrection by taking communion on a regular basis
Then remember why you meet with other Christians. When you are with them, you are either remembering Jesus, or having fellowship with people who also believe in Jesus. How would Jesus want you to behave towards your fellow believers?
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Jesus is listening to all your discussions, so don’t say anything you know he wouldn’t like to hear!
Finally, don’t forget that the way you say things is as important as what you say. If everything you say is in accordance with the Fruits of the Spirit – you will probably have fewer differences in the first place!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
If in your discussions you realize that you are not speaking in love, with gentleness and self-control – then your viewpoint is tainted.
I’m not saying its not important to discuss doctrine, or tradition, or church practices, but if you try to remember all the above points, and focus on the heart of Christianity – our common belief that Jesus came to die for our sins, and also pray that God will open your hearts and minds as you read His word and ask Him to guide you, maybe we will find that our differences can be lightened and resolved, and bring us closer together in fellowship with each other and our Lord.
If you find that your problems don’t stack up when looked at in context of the Bible – don’t be afraid to change your mind and acknowledge it may be you who is wrong – if we let Bible teaching guide our lives we will move closer to the Truth, step by step every day.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4 v 8 )