Ephesians 4:1-6 – “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” NKJV
Through all my Christian life I have watched sectarian bickering and pride prevent unity in the Body of Christ and at times the ‘war’ between sects was more vicious than the assault by any from outside the Church or Body of Christ. The claims made by various groups while helping to identify their core theology has often been laughable as each seemed and seems to think they have ALL TRUTH incorporated in their doctrine. Seriously? Which of us does not ‘see in part’? Which of us was there when the foundations of the world were laid? Which of us participated in the plan of God for mankind? How dare we think that we have ALL TRUTH in our particular brand or label. How dare us so vilify others who name the name of Christ as being 2nd class believers if believers at all. They may not be true believers but that God will address on that day if not before.
Now before I alienate people in all sectors of Christianity I, like you, believe that what I believe is right but I do not believe that all I believe is infallible. In my walk as a Christian I have found that some things I believed in the beginning were incomplete at best and wrong at worst and I have changed my theology and doctrine to accommodate God’s Word rather than attempting to use God’s word to validate my doctrinal beliefs. There are some who identify themselves as Christians that believe things I cannot accept and believe they are not just wrong but heretical. Because of our differences in belief we have little real basis for any fellowship and I pray for them as I suspect they do for me.
Paul told the Ephesian believers that they should desire to live in humility, being long in patience, and saturated in love. He also tells them that one of their prime objectives is to keep the ‘unity of the Spirit’ in the ‘bond of peace.’ Why? Because there is ONE BODY or ONE CHURCH and that is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. God did not divide it up into denominations, sects, groups, and divisions WE DID. The fledgling church had differences and sects within but the apostles sought to tear down those walls and as Aquila and Priscilla did with Apollos in Acts 18 to teach the way more fully and clearly.
It is not so much that I have a problem with the sectarian divisions in the Body of Christ as they tend to allow people who believe certain things to gravitate to that group it is when we elevate ourselves as THE ONLY ONES with the ‘truth’ as I used to hear preachers declare. If we truly seek to WALK IN LOVE we would realize that some things we believe are not essential to salvation and while they may or may not be correct they are somewhat peripheral not critical. I am not suggesting that you compromise your convictions or water down your theology or doctrine to accommodate someone who believes differently only that before you, classify them as ‘outside’ the Family of God you might want to allow God’s love to determine your definitions.
I told a prominent official in a church organization once that if he actually listened and/or talked to the ones he was viciously criticizing he might find as God said to me concerning a minister I had spoken badly of – – “If you would actually listen to him you would find more to applaud than to criticize.’ That arrested me and brought conviction to my heart so powerfully and made me realize that most of us have some truth and some error in what we believe. I realize that some reading this will find that repulsive but if we are deeply honest we will realize that we are mortal and mortals make mistakes. As a human grows and develops into maturity that individual is in a constant learning state and the same is true in Christianity. All are not at the same level of understanding or maturity but if we are growing in grace we are developing. Would it not be better for us to seek the development of others rather than developing a sectarian pride that prevents us for receiving other members of the Body who do not look, talk, or think like us? Again, I do not suggest that you ever comprise your convictions!
May God be with you as you go through your day!