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Imagine America sent 10 ambassadors to Switzerland to represent the country and its interests. Now those ambassadors started out reping well, they spoke highly of the country they came from, and really honored America as a whole. But after a month a few of them started fighting amongst themselves about politics and how they should represent America in this new country. Soon, they are not talking to each other because they have very differing views on what America really even is and what it is about. They nit pick through the constitution, and end up hating each other. The ten cannot even go to public banquets together anymore because they are so hateful towards each other. At this point it is fair to say that they are doing a poor job representing America and its national interests.
Yet, the church, every denomination, does the same thing today. Those who call themselves Christians were called to represent Jesus to a hurting and broken world and restore it through love, but have instead elected to fight amongst each other and make hurt even worse those that Jesus came to save.
One guy named Paul wrote, “Father, may their love grow more and more in wisdom and insight— 10 so they will be able to examine and determine the best from everything else. And on the day of the Anointed One, the day of His judgment, let them stand pure and blameless, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that ripens through Jesus the Anointed” (Philippians 1:1-11 The Voice)
The beginning of a letter is usually pretty important right? Paul is a master writing letters that are inspiring, correcting, loving, and inspired. For this letter he begins with seeking unity among the church, and he also seeks growing in knowledgable love. This ability to discern and love with wisdom Is part of unity. Often times in the church we get messed up and start biting each other’s heads off over minor differences in music styles and other small issues. However, God calls us to be in unity. We are to respect and love each other as brothers and sisters.
Unfortunately, if God’s family was all sitting at the dinner table it would be divided into a 1,000 groups with many who refuse to even talk to their siblings! All the while God is standing as the loving Father that is calling out His ungrateful children to be One and to love one another. How dysfunctional is that? The problem though is not that other people are to blame. I am responsible to. I have been so upset when other believers do not see things in the Bible the way I do.
You see, some issues are Gospel issues, which cannot be moved. These are issues like the fact that Jesus is fully God, the fact that He died on the cross for our sin and raised from the dead, and because of that we have new life in Him. Those issues are essential to our faith; however, not all issues count in this category, such as spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues, or what kind of carpet should be used in a building. Ultimately, there can only be one correct interpretation of Scripture, but there are many believers who are truly seeking the answer in the Bible and end up on different sides. When this stuff happens we need to have real conversations in love and seek unity above all else. Maybe then people will see Jesus when they look at the church, not squabbling and judgment.
We need to have our love grow more and more in wisdom and insight. We need to grow to be people who love God, love studying His word, and love others in unity.