In my years in the church there have been numerous times that you could cut the tension with a knife. And honestly most of the times the situations have not been about major doctrinal disagreements. Biblical truth is non-negotiable. But in most cases, it is a disagreement between groups or individuals who seek their own way in a matter. This is not to say that one particular way or choice may be better than another, but often times Christians seem to have the inability to reconcile with one another. Yet the truth is that we of all people should be the best at reconciliation. We should be unsurpassed at resolving differences and promoting harmony.
How do we resolve differences and minister together harmoniously? I believe the first step is to evaluate our motivations. In his letter to the Philippians the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others.” (2:3,4) Is my attitude selfish? Do I really care about the interest of others? Is it my way or the highway? Is my attitude glorifying God?
Secondly, how do we respond when offended? Do we retaliate? How do we approach our differences? Everyone has opinions. How do we work with those in ministry when there are strong differences? The apostle Paul instructed the Colossians to “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you must do.” (3:12,13) Do I have a forgiving attitude?
“To put on” is the same word used for getting into clothes. Getting physically dressed depends on what we are intending to do. If it’s working outside in the yard, we dress appropriately. If we are going to church we dress in another manner. In the same way when we dress up our inside, our heart, are we putting on these characteristics – tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another and forgiving one another?
And if that doesn’t cover our attitude, he tops it off with, “But above all things put on love which is the bond of perfection.” (Col 3:14) One commentary stated that the bond of perfection also referred to an upper garment which completes and keeps together the rest, which, without it, would be loose and disconnected. So ultimately Paul was using this picture of a garment as to how love among brethren is the necessary element to maintain unity in the body. It holds all the other things together.
We must realize that there will be disagreements; there will be varying opinions as to how to outreach and minister in His church and our community. They are unavoidable. But how we deal with our differences as individuals or as a church is clearly spelled out in Scripture. How are you doing in your relationships to your fellow believers? Ultimately it is dependent on your ongoing relationship with Christ. ARE YOU SPIRITUALLY DRESSED FOR BIBLICAL SUCCESS?
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