Unfortunately, churches all around the world experience brokenness. Christians are divided over things as petty as whether the service should be contemporary or traditional. Paul points out that unity is crucial to achieving our purpose. So how is that possible when a disagreement arises?
It all depends on what the difference of opinion is about. The fundamental beliefs of the faith (i.e., Jesus is the sinless Son of God, who died for our sins and rose again) are not negotiable. But if the dispute has to do with a nonessential issue—even certain interpretations of doctrine, (i.e., free will versus predestination)—some prayerful discussion in love is acceptable, but believers should not let it cause division. In such cases, a consensus is likely to leave some people disappointed with the results. Yet both sides should be willing to accept differences without strife.
Years ago, I went to a rural Southern church, whose congregation was divided into obvious clans. In essence these were like totally separate churches. Instead of addressing lots of fringe issues, I simply began to preach the Word. Over time, people who hadn’t talked to one another in years began to unite. Why? The church is the body of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:24), so He is the only One who can bring us together.
There is nothing we can do in human strength to mend our differences. We selfishly believe our preferences are better than others’ opinions. But in sacrificing our desires for the greater good of a unified church, we please God. And obedience gives greater joy than getting our way.
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.