Sunday, April 6, 2008

Strength through unity

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. Psa. 133:1 April 25, 2007
The other evening I was reading a pamphlet about the Puritans. Unbeknownst to most, these were the people who really made this country the Christian country it is, the ones who laid the moral foundation our laws were built on. One of the features that struck me about these men was their emphasis on Christian unity. Now don’t misunderstand me they weren’t ecumenical, they did not promote Atheists, Muslims, and Catholics sitting down together with them to call each other brothers in Christ. However they did encourage those who agreed on the fundamental Christian doctrines, to fellowship with one another. Following the teachings of Jesus, Paul, and James, they taught that we ought to lay down our trivial disagreements, and gladly join hands to further the gospel of Christ. John 13:35 tells us that the world knows we are Christ’s disciples by our love for one another.
Have you ever been in the middle of a warm conversation with someone you just met, things are going along fine, until you mention you're Baptist and they're Pentecostal? The conversation comes to an awkward end and you walk away, without ever finding out what he/she was trusting in for salvation. The manmade names we’ve denominated ourselves into, instantly become a barrier between us and one who might have become a life long friend. We allow trivial theological differences, to bring a friendly conversation to an abrupt halt. Why?
We live in a country with incredible religious freedom, and this plays out to our advantage the vast majority of the time. Like everything though, it has its disadvantages. The most obvious one, (especially for those of us in the Bible belt) is the fact that there are a dozen churches of each denomination in each town. If we don’t like the way so-and-so looked at us, or the way so-and-so didn’t look at us, if we think Ms. Sally was rude to us, or Mr. George slighted us, we just up and move to a different church or drop out of church all together. You know who I’ m talking about, the one that you see in the grocery store and quickly duck into the next aisle, so as to avoid having to talk to them. The person you would walk over hot coals to get away from, before you would confront them with the problem and try to make it right. The Puritans didn’t have this luxury, if they thought something was wrong, the only choice they had was the biblical one. They had to go to that person and work it out. It is easier though, to just switch churches and talk about that person behind their back. A godly man once told me "If you're not the problem or the solution, stay out of it!" That advice has saved me a world of trouble.
What do you think would happen, if we Christians decided to quit bickering about the end times and instead focused on today? What if we could stop majoring on the minors, and start deciding what is really important? What relationships would be restored if we would go the extra mile to make sure that there was nothing between us and our brother or sister? What a revival could break out, if we could agree that the bible alone was going to be our measuring stick, and not tradition or men’s words. Along with the Psalmist we could cry “How good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity”, if in fact we started practicing it in our daily lives. If we would purpose in our hearts, to be true disciples of Christ, by honestly loving one another at church, at work, or in the grocery store. If Jesus loved them enough to die for them, ought we not to love them too?

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