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.