Christians can at times see things differently and God has burdened each one of our hearts with different things. Scripture should always be the finale authority on any given issue for a Christian but sometimes we won’t always see eye to eye on certain things. Certain issues are black and white, but others are somewhat more difficult to discern. We should not let this divide us though and as we all know, political opinions can sometimes do a great deal of dividing.
Jesus said in Mark 9:50- “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
What is the saltiness he is referring to? It seems to suggest in the text peace. Webster’s dictionary defines peace in these terms, and I think this is the definition that best fits:
b : a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity
How on earth can we influence the world if we cannot even be at peace with one another? What example does this send to a lost world seeking answers?
Paul and Barnabas encountered a bit of a situation in Acts 15, the situation unfolded in these events starting at verse 36-41
36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them,
38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Paul seemed to want to do the wise thing, yet Barnabas leaned more on the side of the gracious and compassionate thing. Is wisdom bad? No. Is compassion or grace bad? No. Have you ever met Christians who are gifted and excel in the area of mercy, while at the same time others are more bold and courageous and able to exercise tough love? Why is that, well, the Bible says that when we have received Christ as Lord and Savior we all received certain spiritual gifts according to the Holy Spirit’s descretion
Romans 125 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Now we are all called to serve and contribute to the needs of others and show mercy as well, but some Christians are especially gifted in certain capacities. Some are great teachers and can expound upon and bring out the rich meaning of scripture, some Christians are great and saying uplifting and edifying words of encouragement, others are blessed with material goods and find great joy in giving and yet others make excellent leaders! The point is not all believers are the same, but they are loved the same and bought with the same blood of Jesus that we all were.
What if a Christian strays from a Biblical principle though? What if what he/she is believing is clearly not scriptural? The prescription for this is:
Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load.
“Carry each other’s burdens” as well as “Carry his own load” This could possibly mean that we should help a struggling believer without in our minds exalting ourself above them as “more spiritually superior”
Jesus said, “
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
It continues on to say in verse 10 “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
We must be careful as Christians not to try to help others with an attitude of superiority but rather love and gentle compassion. It is never a wise idea, or most of the time, to confront another’s sin while you are angry. Unfortunately, I’m a class example of how this does not work to well. We need to go into a situation 1.) in genuine concern for the person, not with a “holier than thou” attitude and 2.) Make sure we are not guilty of the same thing we are trying to correct them on!
God set us free from sin so we can serve him as Lord, but not just that, but also so we can lead other’s to his freedom.
Galatians 5:3 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
“biting and devouring” wow! Striking analogy for how we can tear one another apart in angry disputes. Sometimes we do not like the way another Christian thinks or acts or their opinions, and if it is sin, Lord willing, we should address that issue but if they don’t want to hear it then we must remember that we won’t be the final judge of any person, and God will evaluate us also. This should keep us from getting too self righteous or arrogant but rather cause a healthy amount of fear.
Romans 14:12-19 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.
(Sometimes the things we feel like God has not forbidden for us are different than what he has forbidden for some, so we need to be careful to not carelessly say, “Oh God’s okay with that.” The perfect example is music, some Christians have no problem with a lot of different types of music bands but some Christians feel like God does not want them listening to screamo-heavy metal or rap. That is really an issue of conscience and is between them and God, and we should not try to tell them or pressure them into doing something they might feel guilt over. Another example is alcohol, although the Bible condemns drunkeness as sin, some Christians feel it is ok to have a glass of wine every now and then and others do not. Paul clearly spells out that it is sin to cause someone to do something they consider sin.)
17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Sometimes Christians can though have differences in ideas politically also as to what it looks like to serve God and what the application of this may look like. The Bible commands we help the poor and needy, but the same Bible says, “If a man is unwilling to work he should not eat” Christians also from time to time see differently on, for example, coming across a homeless person. One group might say, “well I’m going to give this person some money, I’m not fully sure how they will use it but I trust God will bless my generosity. If they do use it for the wrong things then I cannot really know one way or the other.” Others may say, “This person might use this money to buy drugs and alcohol, I would rather give to an organization that would provide them with a hot meal and a place to stay.”
Can you see how easy it is to have a slightly different take on a situation. At the end of the day, it is God who judges and weighs a persons heart. We cannot, it is impossible for us to because as people we can only weigh and evaluate what a person does. We can call out sinful choices if their is that manifested but only God can really see what is in an individuals heart.