To Contend for the Common Faith & Not to be Contentious for Other Things
"Concerning the faith, we must be definite. But as for doctrines such as immersion, sprinkling, head covering, foot-washing, eating, keeping days, and so many other things, we must be general. If we would not be so general, we will surely be divisive." - Witness LeeI had dinner with my friends and we got into this topic about why Christianity fell into an endless division, into so many denominations. One of them read 1 Corinthians 1:10, "Now I beseech you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be attuned in the same mind and in the same opinion." In verse 13 the Apostle Paul wrote, "Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul?" My friend pointed out that divisions in Christianity contradicted these verses.
I truly appreciate our time together that Friday evening. We all speak the same thing, the common faith, but when we begin to emphasize and insist other items aside from the common faith, the vicious cycle of division has already started. Of course, I don't mean we should stop studying the Bible thoroughly and overlook the other Scriptural items, but we should maintain a spirit of being open, general, and learning all the time. We also should not practice generality to the extent that we can take any kind of persons. In his epistles, the Apostle Paul himself is general and gracious in receiving believers, but he is also very strict and resolute in exhorting us to turn away from those who are dissenting, who make divisions, and who make causes of stumbling.
I'd like to share one occasion in which I failed to maintain unity. I can't remember when, but I was definitely much younger. Our extended family had a relative who needed us to pray. So we, all Christians, prayed together. As we prayed, I noticed how different we were just from the way each one of us prayed. So I was quite determined that I would not pray like the others. I was actually hoping that the others would follow the way I prayed. I prayed loudly so others could hear the way I prayed. I did everything according to my way. The prayer time highlighted our differences. I even had a slight pomposity, boasting in my own ways. Within everyone's heart, we all knew that we were not the same.
Now when I look back to that moment, I repent with my whole heart. I was ignorant. I did not care to preserve the oneness of our faith. May the Lord have mercy on all of us, so that we would not divide our Christ, His Body, all His members, ourselves.
Thanks for sharing your memory! That reminds me of similar sentiments I had when I was younger as well :)ReplyDelete
I also recently enjoyed that a strong indicator that we are walking in our flesh/natural person is when we insist on things - even little, seemingly inconsequential things. O Lord! Knock down all those walls of partition that we may try to build...
That's true. Behind insisting on our own thoughts and ways are our self-assurance that we know best and we can make it by ourselves. May the Lord humble us in this matter.ReplyDelete
Thanks for reading, Joanne.
I have a number of Christian friends from many different backgrounds, and when I was in university, I was so puzzled as to how Christians could be so divided. If God is one, how can His believers, His Body, be splintered into so many different groups?ReplyDelete
According to the Bible, I see more clearly now that denominations and divisions are not pleasing to the Lord, but I have also been learning slowly that by taking care of the common faith I am able to have a sweet fellowship with my Christian friends, or any other Christian I meet, regardless of minor points of doctrine or outward practices. Because of our common faith, we are one.
Thanks for sharing your story too, it is a good lesson to keep learning!
Thank you, Sarah, for your comment and story. As Christians, we will meet other Christians who may not believe in the same doctrines, but having the same common faith. This becomes our testing, how much do we care for the oneness of the Body of Christ?ReplyDelete