Unity is Worth It

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
1 Corinthians 1:10

I am not sure if many of you know this but I have a brother. I have had a brother for about 40 years now. When he and I were in our elementary school years, we were thrust into being brothers. My dad married his mom and my dad became his dad and his mom became my mom and we instantly became brothers. Although we are only a few months apart in age, we could not be more different. First of all, he is a lot better looking than I am. Growing up, I loved hunting and fishing and being outside. My brother didn’t care much for it. We had different likes in music and friends and styles. When we were younger, we didn’t always get along because of the differences we had. In fact, we allowed our differences to drive us apart as brothers. We still have some vast differences today, but we have learned to not be so critical of each other because of the differences we have. We realized that we are brothers and nothing will ever change that. We were both “adopted” into a family and that means something despite the differences we have. 

As believers saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, we too have been adopted into a big family of the Church. This is a pretty diverse family, made up of many local bodies of believers. We come from all kinds of backgrounds and life experiences and differences and traditions. There are secondary theological differences and denominational differences. There are even different preferences in music that we sing or how church services function and although we may disagree on such things, if our hope and faith is in Jesus we are still part of one big family, the Church.

My brother and I still have differences. We still disagree on things, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are brothers and always will be. I love my brother and there is no doubt he loves me. Instead of being overly critical of each other, we encourage each other all the more. It was a hard lesson for us both to learn, but it has really brought us closer together. In fact, there are some things we just agree to disagree on.
So often, confessing believers are quick to criticize each other on things that, in the end, won’t really matter much. I believe the evil one loves to use such tactics to divide believers. It is so easy to pick apart the lives of other believers or other Gospel proclaiming churches and highlight the things we don’t like. The truth is there are things about our church I don’t like, but there are so many more things I see as an amazing gift from God. We need to be ever vigilant in warring against things that cause divisions. (Check our 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.) 

Before we jump to criticism we need to first be informed. So often criticism comes from ignorance. Ask questions of others; why they do the things they do. Your elders are always open to such conversations and I would think other believers are too. Then, see how you can do more encouraging than criticizing. It is much more effective. And also remember that although you may disagree on some things with a brother, and you may be right, he is still your fellow brother, saved by the same grace you are.

I have a dear friend and Methodist pastor back in Texas that I would often discuss theological differences with. At the end of one of our great conversations he made this statement that I will always remember. He said “Josh, I am sure that when we both get to heaven, we will discover that we both were wrong about a whole lot of stuff.” Sometimes it is good to agree to disagree. I love you guys and am grateful to be your pastor.

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