Scrolling through my newsfeed, it’s pretty clear that we are far from united. And I’m not just talking about our country… I’m speaking of the church. This division isn’t new. Our church has always faced divisiveness; so much so that Jesus prayed for our unity shortly before His death and resurrection. He KNEW that we would struggle to be united. The good news is that peace in the body of Christ is possible through the Holy Spirit. We need to be united in Him. But how do we do that when we all have our varying theologies and ideals? How on earth are we supposed to get along?
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We are the Body of Christ. At least that’s how Paul put it in his letter to the Corinthians:
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. – 1 Corinthians 12:12-15 (NIV)
The Bible is very clear that we are all talented and gifted. God has called each of us to a unique purpose in Him and has equipped us to carry out that call. But in the end, we are all different. Different isn’t bad. Different is good. In fact, it’s how God designed us to function as a whole. A body cannot function with one body part. It needs many to complete even the most mundane of tasks. Yet for some reason, we often try to function this way as the Body of Christ.
Churches are everywhere. In my hometown, we actually have an intersection with three separate and very large churches on each corner. Do these churches ever co-mingle? Unfortunately… probably not. They are three separate denominations that generally don’t get along. This is such a shame… They worship the same God, bow their knees to the same Jesus, yet they have allowed differing denominational viewpoints to keep them apart.
In fact, today’s culture has taken denominational differences a step further. We now charge anyone with differing beliefs as a false teacher. Now again, I’m not talking about salvation issues here. Paul defined what it means to be a Christian in Romans 10:9.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9 (NIV)
It’s rather simple, don’t you think? You don’t have to be raised in a certain denomination, sing the right songs on Sunday mornings, or even dress a specific way when you gather together with other believers. A false teacher teaches a different Jesus, a different gospel, and generally does so for personal gain. (In fact, nearly every mention of false teachers in the New Testament refers to the teacher’s heart and their motives rather than simply their bad teaching.) To label everyone as a false teacher who teaches a theological view you disagree with only hurts the Body of Christ as well as our ministry to the world.
Please hear me out on this one… theology is ever changing. Studying church history and what has been taught for the past 2000 years has opened my eyes to what it means to be a Christian as well as a theologian. You study. You debate. And you respect differing viewpoints. Why? Because I can assure you that no two theologians will ever agree on every aspect of Christianity. In fact, there were many church fathers who changed their viewpoints throughout their ministries!
If I were to tell you every single thing Martin Luther, John Calvin, Dwight L. Moody, George Whitefield, John Wesley, etc. taught in their lifetimes, I can guarantee you wouldn’t agree with every single theological point. And I can say with certainty that they didn’t (and wouldn’t) all agree with each other. Yet these men of God did tremendous things in the Body of Christ to further spread the Gospel and bring about revivals.
Until Jesus returns, our theology will have its flaws… and until then, we cling to the Gospel truth and stop arguing over the little things.
So we come back to one specific question: how do we have peace in the Body of Christ?
- We focus more on where we agree rather than where we disagree. As Christians, we all have the same Holy Spirit living within us, bow our knees to the same Savior, and are children of the same Father. If we can find a way to be united in these truths, we will be unstoppable at sharing God’s love with the world.
- We stop slandering those within the Body of Christ who hold different viewpoints. This one is incredibly hard for some… especially now that we have social media and can share our opinions anonymously. But how many battles are fought within the church over non-fundamental theological issues? Does your salvation really depend upon your view of how worship should be conducted? Or does it depend on your viewpoint of women in ministry? It’s okay to know where you stand on an issue, but it’s not okay to put others down who don’t agree with you.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:4-6
It is only possible to have peace in the Body of Christ if we all choose to recognize that we are united in one faith, one Spirit, and one Savior.
Click here to read more from our 31 Days of Peace Beyond Understanding series!
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.