John 17:21 New International Version (NIV)
21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Brothers and Sisters,
We all are prone to disagree with others, this is actually in-escapable in this life and Christian walk. God does not call believers to be uniform in all ways as Paul the Apostle speaks of the diversity of differences and giftings in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). There are some common practices the Church has always had but on other things like giftings, callings, burdens, there are great differences and the body is only complete because of these differences. We should never separate but admire believers for their differences and see the good in it.
Jesus prayed for believers in John 17 to be unified in their diversity. To be one just as He was one with the Father in Heaven. How can we disagree with someone gracefully but still accept them fully as a brother or sister in the Lord?
1. Avoid Foolish arguments. - If a brother or sister is continuing to argue or debate in a cancerous way we are simply to avoid this and gently love them, not even having the last word. And the Scripture says for us to be kind to everyone in this light (2 Timothy 2:23-24).
2. Accept Others - We are to accept other brothers and sisters in the Lord even if there is a disputable matter that we disagree with. This should not cause dis-union or no fellowship to occur (Romans 14:1).
3. Not Judging Motives - We are all servants of God and in the end we will all bear witness and judgment towards Him. All our motives will be laid bare on that day of Jesus Christ. It is not wise to try and judge motives of others as it will result in disagreements and hurt (Romans 14:4). We might probably be judging someone who God accepts and therefore going against God.
4. Love - "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." (Ephesians 4:2). Humility puts oneself under others. Those who are gently seek to never hurt anyone else. Patience gives other differences to God and does not try and figure it out themselves. Bearing long in love, see's over faults and problems and loves the individual themselves.
5. Respecting Christian Authority - Many disagreements and wrong thinking or judging comes out of the root of rebellion and going against established authority by God. God has always worked through leaders as frail and earthly as they are at times to bring unity to the body of Christ (1 Peter 5:2-3).
6. Understanding Your Calling - Many disagreements happen when a believer does not understand their own calling and starts to fight against other callings in the body of Christ because of their lack of direction in their own live. When we are walking in our calling we will bear fruit (John 15:16). Our heart should be to encourage and be glad to see others walking in their callings.
7. Self-Control - Part of the Christian walk in the Spirt is self-control (Galatians 5:23). This means to hold back speaking at times when we want to speak. The tongue unleashed to speak without hindrance will damage relationships for life with even just a few words. "The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Proverbs 12:18).
8. Responding with Grace - Even if a brother or sister on purpose speaks a very hurtful or evil word we are to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ and not repay evil with evil but bless (1 Peter 3:9). This blessing is not a judgment towards the other but must be full of grace desiring the brother or sister to be led into God's love, peace and guidance. Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction to someone who transgresses. The best we can do is force condemnation on another.
Only God can bring unity in a forum discussion on the internet in the 21st century. I had many pastors and a few Christian leaders tell me 12 years ago it would never work! But It has been clear though through turmoils and disagreements the Lord has consistently brought great good from the forums here on SermonIndex.
I have considered a few times to close down the forum part of the website but always sensed the nudging of the Lord to continue with it. I am thankful for the relationships of brothers and sisters across 1000's of denominations where we find our unity and fellowship in Jesus Christ. May God continue this testimony and allow great good to come from the discussions this coming year and beyond.
Being undenominational, SermonIndex seeks to minister to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity (Eph. 6:24), and to love all who love Him (John 15:12; 1 John 4:20-21).
We hold to the historic faith of the Church in the Nicene Creed, may we find unity in these statements of historical Christian truths held since the Apostles.:
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father, God from God,
Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and Apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon