Mind you, I am not advocating that we accept all the beliefs among our brethren; especially if we discern that they are counter to God's core principles of loving Him and others. And I do not think that it is necessary to accept a particular doctrine or precept just because we call each other "Christian". It is up to each Christian to determine his own theology --- hopefully based on a sincere and thorough immersion in the Word.
When I use the word Unity, I am not referring to a "one size fits all" understanding of everything about God. Since I believe that He uses each of us for His own divine purposes, we may each possess a unique understanding of a part of His sovereign character that calls for us to walk a different path than another. That's where the Diversity part of my title comes in.
No, what I am talking about is walking that tightrope of maintaining what God has revealed as His Truth to you, while continuing to love and respect another's different Truth -- realizing that both are coming from our Heavenly Father for His purpose, not ours. Speaking to this concept, Paul says in Romans 14:4, "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand".
Can you see that we are all servants in the Body of Christ, and He is the Master of us all? We each belong to Him -- even if we are different! The problem begins when we judge each other for our opinions on Scripture, or something as mundane as our preferences in how we worship. Paul goes on to say in subsequent verses, "There is nothing wrong with having different personal convictions about such matters". He tells us that if our fellow Brother or Sister in Christ is doing something different than us, yet doing it to honor the Lord, who are we to judge that? Because when we judge those matters of opinions or preferences, aren't we taking the role that belongs to Jesus alone?
As Paul reminds us, we will each have our turn to stand before God's judgment seat. We are each going to have to give a personal account of our own life before God. And we are going to have to listen to all the times we spoke in dishonor to another of our brethren. And it doesn't matter if our Sister or Brother sparked the division with a raised voice, or questioned our theology, or accused us of embracing a false message -- we are obligated to walk in love and honor the Body of Christ.
I will tell you that it is not always easy. I'm sure each of us can recall at least one event when a fellow Christian offended us. And it's easy to only focus on their actions or words that insulted us. But if we can stop and honestly reflect on the bigger picture, we can usually see where they could say the same thing about that event. If we truly have the Holy Spirit in us, then we should be able to see that hurtful words are not spontaneously borne out of a vacuum. That would be the action of a person belonging to the devil.
While it has been extremely disheartening to see my fellow Christians judge each other because of their differences, my spirit rejoices when I am in the company of Believers who can honor the value of each other in the Lord's Kingdom, as they accept the diversity among us. Have we forgotten that the Bible tells us we can't all be hands, or feet, or eyes? That there are many differing parts and functions, but one body?
And have we stopped to think that perhaps by listening to our brethren, that we might learn of a new aspect of our Father's Nature and Character? If we limit our understanding of Him to only what we have been taught in our denominational buildings -- or even from what has been revealed specifically to us -- then is it possible that we are missing out on a valuable component of who God is, and how we might grow our area of service to Him? Is it possible that someone else's experience with God might show us a perspective of the Godhead that has not been revealed in our history with Him? And why should that be seen as so harmful to the Body?
If we are truly Spirit-filled, then why the fear of something that sounds new? Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 2, "Those who live in the Spirit are able to carefully evaluate all things, and [those things] are subject to the scrutiny of no one but God". In other words, we Christians need to be careful that we are not evaluating our brethren according to our own human wisdom/teachings/knowledge. Who are we to question what has been revealed to another by the Spirit? It is important to understand that True Believers possess the Holy Spirit, who is the presence of Christ in us, and who reveals the thoughts and purposes of Christ to us.
It has been true ever since Jesus walked this earth ... the revelation of the Kingdom of God [that our Lord preached] has not been understood by men who declare themselves as the arbitrators or judges of truth, but by those who welcome His truth. So, no man can humanly understand all the mysteries and character of God, without the Holy Spirit. Those who have the Holy Spirit now possess the ability to perceive Christ’s mind [in all its various and different manifestations] and can enact His purposes on the earth.
So the next time you disagree with a fellow Christian, stop and discern the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Is there evidence and fruit of the Spirit in their words and actions? Then consider that Christ is using them for a different purpose for the Kingdom. Don't judge them by human standards, even if those standards carry the Christian label. And if either of you have offended each other, repent to the Lord and ask Him to show you how to love them as He loves them. Even if you are struggling with accepting the journey they are on, love them... simply love them. Don't assume Jesus's role as Judge, but join Him in accepting them as part of His Body, then re-focus on His purpose for your life. I truly believe we can be unified in the midst of our diversity -- and it will strengthen and increase God's Kingdom on earth!
Psalm 119:110-112 The ungodly have done their best to throw me off track, but I'll not deviate from what You've told me to do. Everything You speak to me is like joyous treasure, filling my life with gladness. I have determined in my heart to obey whatever you say, fully and forever!
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