Satan hates God. Therefore he hates God’s creation – especially humanity. And the ones that Satan hates the most are God’s people, the church. His strategy has always been deception. The Bible tells us that his great plan for the church is to cause Christians—true believers who ought to be united in the gospel—to find ways of disagreeing among themselves, to divide, to be bitter and jealous, and ultimately to “bite and devour one another” (Gal. 5:15).
I believe this is one reason why Jesus prayed that his disciples be united.
“I’m praying not only for them. But also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind— Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you. So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are— I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me.” (John 17:20-23 The Message)
In the many years I have served as pastor, here is one observation I have. Honestly, I include myself in this because I have been guilty of this myself.
Here is my point: It is time for us Christians to spend more time considering evidences of grace in other Christians than focusing so much on people’s sins and weaknesses. It is time for us to be united in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. A gospel of grace and love.
I say this because we believe in standards of right and wrong. However, we fall into this nature of making constant judgment and measuring up people based on what they do. As Christians, we probably have a much greater ability to see weakness in other people (even believers) than to see their strength. It is as if we use a microscope when looking for weakness and a telescope when looking for grace. The Bible tells us that sin is darkness while grace is light. It reveals that sin is hell and grace is heaven. Therefore, isn’t it pure madness when we look more at darkness than at light, more at hell than at heaven?
Even as Jesus prayed for our unity, yet we scrutinize with a magnifying glass our doctrinal differences in understanding the scriptures. We highlight differences instead of our unity in Christ. We are divided in a lot of non-essentials. We are quick to judge and condemn others who may differ in our understanding of certain doctrines. Hence, we have hundreds if not thousands of denominations and churches that claim to be Christians but are divided. And this is sad because it weakens our testimony as God’s people. Why is unity important? Let me give you seven billion reasons. Seven billion people in this world need to see that God’s people are united. Seven billion people in this world need to know who God is. Seven billion people need to understand what grace is all about.
Should we not spend more time considering areas of agreement than disagreement? Yes, the doctrines we share with other true believers are the foundational doctrines. However, the ones we do not share are not necessarily salvation issues and less central to the faith. Should we not acknowledge that we and those with whom we disagree would someday spend eternity together? And that this should encourage us to not allow marginal doctrines to separate us here on earth?
Isn’t it God’s desire that we love one another? When we feel our hearts begin to turn against other Christians, should we not be reminded of God’s admonition for us to love one another? (John 15:12, Romans 13:8, Hebrews 13:1, 1 John 4:7, 1 Peter 1:22, and so on.) Should we not allow Jesus who lives in us (Galatians 2:20) to live his life of love?
Here is what I found helpful to me as a Christian: Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, says that we are one body and He is the head of this body. I constantly meditate on this unique relationship between Christians. More importantly, our very God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is One. God’s very nature pictures harmony, unity ,and love. Since God is one, should we not also be one body in Christ?
Psalm 133:1 proclaims the goodness and pleasantness of dwelling together in unity. There are some things in the world that are good but not pleasant. At the same time, there are things that are pleasant but not good. However, to live in peace is both pleasant and good. Let us consider the parts of the body and how they all work together in unity with the head. After all we are God’s family in Christ.