The early church was a united body of believers whose main objective was to spread the Gospel to people who desperately needed to hear it. The disputes that occurred within this body were over the essentials of the Gospel, not over peripheral issues. Shouldn't this be our main objective also? Today it seems that too much of our time is spent arguing to prove one brand of Christianity is better than another. It seems as if we are trying to win people to our pet opinions instead of winning them to the One who can truly change their lives. In the meantime, lost men and women are left in their sin and misery.
The Bible says that people will know we are Jesus' disciples if we love one another (John 13:35). The premise for this book is that the verses/passages/doctrines that have been argued down through the ages, and the divisions that these arguments have caused, hinders our ability to express and exhibit God's love and our love for other Christians.
Granted, there are important issues that affect the church and need to be discussed and debated. Nevertheless, in this culture of mass media, should those discussions, debates, and disagreements be broadcast over the airwaves and on the internet to be seized as ammunition by those who would use it to attack the church of Jesus? In their book Being The Body, Chuck Colson and Ellen Vaughn write about this very thing:
Aggressive secularists don't care whether we are Eastern Orthodox or Baptist or charismatic; they can't distinguish between pre- and post-millennialism, nor would they care if they could. They want only to discredit the church because its views are contrary to their own world-view. So when we are divided, quarreling among ourselves, we play right into their hands, diminishing our own already weakened influence. (Colson and Vaughn, p. 76)
How much damage is done to that soul who was on the verge of giving his heart to Jesus until he heard a couple of Christians drawing battle lines over some preference on which they could not agree?
The image we present to a lost and hurting world, by publicly drawing lines of separation over certain issues, is detrimental to the spread of the Gospel of Jesus. When non-Christians see that we allow disagreements to create schisms within the body of believers, they wonder if we truly are any different than they are. We claim we are united in one Lord, one body, and one Spirit, but we cannot seem to agree on what we believe.
God does not cause these arguments. The Bible says that God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33). How can we justify the division caused by the arguments that hover around certain biblical passages? Could it be that the very ambiguity of these disputed passages is a test to see how we will treat those with whom we disagree?
How then should the world see us? If we look to the Bible for the answer, which we should, we see a picture of the Christian that is antithetical to the way of the world. Paul writes to the Philippian Christians:
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16 NKJV)
Seeking to introduce people to Jesus Christ and to help them become "transformed by the renewing of their mind."
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