If you pay any attention to the political landscape, you know how opinionated people can be. Great divides exist even among Christians over politics, doctrine, moral issues, and church practices. A plethora of denominations and church splits testify of how opinionated we can be.
A Christ-like Response to Differences of Opinion
Different opinions are not the problem. We can become better, as His Church, if we learn how to respond with Christ-likeness as described in Philippians 2.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Phil. 2:1-4)
1) We must all be willing to learn from one another.
Notice this phrase in Philippians 2: “common sharing in the Spirit”
While at the end of the day we are all personally accountable to God for where we stand on issues and must assume responsibility for our own actions and reactions, we can learn from and grow because of one another.
2) We must not let our personal preferences, politics, and practices divide.
Notice these phrases in Philippians 2: “united with Christ” and “in the Spirit”
There’s a bigger picture — the cause of Christ. As individuals and as a Church, let’s keep the focus on HIM and who we are in Him, not on ourselves.
3) We must be considerate of one another and continue to love one another even when we disagree, responding with Christ-likeness.
Notice this part in Philippians 2: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Let’s remember the exhortation of Philippians 2:2-7 where the Apostle Paul wrote of his joy being complete if they would be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” If it would cause that kind of reaction in Paul, imagine how the Lord must feel when believers come together in unity despite our diversity!
4) We must keep an attitude of love and humility, that of servanthood seen in Christ, no matter how right we may feel we are.
Notice Philippians 2:5-7: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Let’s express and even celebrate our individual differences and learn from one another, doing “nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
When we come together this way, despite our differences, the world around us sees the life of Christ flowing through us, not a people all fragmented and dysfunctional. That is something they would want to be a part of, not something to mock and run from!
As a church, we are more than a mere organization. We are a living organism, the Body of Christ. Similar to the human body, the Church has many different parts with varying ways of doing things. Yet, those parts come together to form a coordinated whole under the leadership of the Head. Imagine the difference we, the Church, could make in this world if we would function the way God designed us to be.
May God help each of us live out the oneness we have in Him.