(NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)
By this everyone will know that you are My
disciples, if you have love for one another.
Is this what the world is seeing from you and me? I know that as followers of Jesus we’ve gotten it right some of the time. But if we’re honest, we’ll admit that Christians have also shown the world division, fighting, and backbiting. And what we’re usually divided over is what we believe.
You might believe one way about spiritual gifts, and I might believe something slightly different. You might believe one way about the Rapture of the church, and I might believe another. You might believe one way about predestination, election, and eternal security, or any number of other doctrines, and I might believe differently. You might believe one kind of worship music is the best way to come before God with your praise and adoration, and I might believe differently.
But as people who believe Jesus was right when He said in JOHN 14:6 that He’s the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes into a relationship with God the Father except through Him, God wants us to be united in love with one another. This is why we pray for other Christian churches each week – even ones that we might have some doctrinal differences with. Because what’s important is our mutual love of Jesus Christ and our willingness to follow Him.
Listen to what the Apostle Paul wrote in EPHESIANS 4:1-6 concerning the things that followers of Jesus Christ need to be in unity with other Christians about …
… I beg you to live in a way that is worthy of the
people God has chosen to be His own. Always
be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each
other and love each other. Try your best to let
God’s Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace.
All of you are part of one body. There is only one Spirit
of God, just as you were given one hope when you were
chosen to be God’s people. We have only one Lord, one
faith, and one baptism. There is one God who is the Father
of all people. Not only is God above all others, but He
works by using all of us, and He lives in all of us.
Friends, these have got to be the beliefs that unify us with other followers of Jesus Christ. If you're part of the Body of Jesus Christ, then you’ve got a lot of siblings - not only here at 2nd Street, but in churches all around Newberg, Oregon, and across the face of the earth. God wants us to get along. And it’s not about cloning or becoming identical Christians … it's about harmonizing.
It was said that George Whitefield (England | 1714-1770) was such a powerful evangelist that 30,000 people would regularly attend his open-air meetings. History tell us that Whitefield was so anointed and eloquent, that many orators and actors would come just to watch him, listen to him, and try to learn from him.
Charles Wesley, a contemporary of Whitefield, also preached to multitudes. And yet the Christian doctrines these two men held were miles apart. In fact, when it came to certain doctrines (especially God’s sovereignty and mankind’s free will) they placed paid advertisements in the newspapers explaining why they believed what they did — and why the other guy was wrong. I promise that I won’t ever do. Even though The Graphic could probably use the ad-revenue!
In fact, the disagreements between Whitefield and Wesley, were so intense at times, that people must have thought they hated each other. But any question about that was finally put to rest one day when a newspaper reporter asked, “Tell me, Mr. Whitefield, do you expect to see Charles Wesley in heaven?” “No, I won’t see Charles Wesley in heaven” Whitefield answered. “Oh, he’ll be there. But he’ll be so close to the throne of Jesus Christ, and I’m going to be so far back, that there’s no way I’ll be able to see him.”
Man, I like that! Here were two pastor-teachers who held very different doctrinal views from one another, and whose ministries had very different focuses, and yet they made the choice to have unity through love in their diversity. Do you see it?
is not unity; it is uniformity, and uniformity is dull. It is fine
when the choir sings in unison, but I prefer that they
sing in harmony.” - Warren Wiersbe, Be Hopeful, p. 53.