by Matt Slick
One of the biggest problems in the body of Christ is disunity. Christianity has been fragmented and splintered into so many groups and denominations that our effectiveness is largely diminished. After all, how are we supposed to teach the world about truth when our "truth" causes us to disagree with each other so much?
My encounters with Christians over the years has brought me to the stark awareness that far too many Christians are more concerned about a chip-on-their-theological-shoulder than they are with expanding the body of Christ. I am constantly encountering Calvinists who attack non Calvinists. I find Baptists who attack Presbyterians, non-tongue speakers who attack those who speak in tongues (and vice versa), pre-tribers battling post tribbers, amil verses premil, etc. The whole thing is ridiculous. Sure, we can have differences of opinion and we need to because we are thinkers and we have opinions. But our differences need to be couched in humility and love. When these differences of opinion become more important than unity in the body of Christ, then idolatry has crept not only into the church, but also into our hearts.
"Therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christs gift 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ," (Eph. 4:1-7,12-13).
The command is unity. Of course, unity is never to cost us the essentials. The essentials of the faith are what make us Christians. These essentials are the deity of Christ, the Trinity, Jesus' physical resurrection, and salvation by grace. It is our faith in Christ, God in flesh, 2nd person of the Trinity that makes us Christians, not if we believe in pre or post-trib rapture, infant baptism or adult baptism, or praise music or hymns. Because we are saved by the one and same Lord Jesus, it is to Him that we must look while we remember His humility which is a vital part to being unified in the body of Christ. We cannot be unified if we are elevating ourselves and our non-essential doctrines into the realm of the essentials.
Humility is when a person looks at another and says, "You may be right." Humility is when you consider another more important than yourself. Humility is when you admit that the Lord is working through another even as He may work through you and that unity, for the glory of God and the furthering of His kingdom, is far more important than the pet doctrines we feed and water and sick on others who disagree with us.
"Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God," (Rom. 14:4-6).
Why is unity so important? Two reasons. First, unity means that we are humble with each other, which pleases the Lord, and it brings Him glory. Second, people are going to hell and they need the gospel. Should we be so concerned about our non-essential pet doctrines that we take our eyes off of evangelism and let the souls of the damned slip through our fingers unnoticed or even hindered by our bickering and division? Should we allow the enemy to sow discord among our ranks so that we are fighting each other instead of him? Or should we gather our gifts, our talents, our monies, our resources, and direct them towards reaching the lost? After all, there isn't a Presbyterian or Baptist, or Lutheran on the throne of God.
May the Lord have mercy on us and may we put our eyes upon Him and ask Him to use us, to humble us, and to cause our hearts to elevate the preaching of the gospel to the high rank it deserves, far above our denominational differences, and far above our non-essentials. To Jesus be the glory.