Let me just begin by saying that I believe deeply in the unity of the global body of Christ. When I say global body of Christ, I am refferring to all those who beileve that Jesus is the Son of God and that God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and The Holy Spirit all share equally in the role of God as demonstrated in Mattew 28:19 where Jesus commands the disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”
In the centuries that have followed the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, generations of men and women have come to develop many different belief systems, otherwise known as doctrines, about living the Christian life. Doctrinal differences are man made and based on our limited ability to fully understand all God has revealed to us on this side of heaven. Jesus’ doctrine summed up all of the commandments as these: “The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
When we get to heaven, all of our actions will be judged based on what we did with the knowledge that Jesus Christ died for our sins and how we allowed it to change our lives. Did we love God first with all of our being? Did we show love to all those God put in our lives? Did we do it with grace and mercy or did we follow in the steps of the Pharisees and Sadducees by adding rules upon rules that must be followed?
I believe that there will be a whole lot of people who are shocked when the make it to heaven to learn that God doesn’t care about our doctrines, our rule following, our legalistic way of thinking. He cares about the condition of our heart. He cares that we recognize that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation or our freedom in Christ because they are gifts freely and sacrificially given to us out of His great love and mercy. And He desires for us, in the here and now, to walk in love and unity.
He understands that we are not all going to agree on every interpretation of His word, or every idea of how to fulfill the Great Commision or even on how to get along with one another some days, and that is okay. Our differences do not disqualify us as disciples or minimize our efforts to live as Christ. We see this in Paul’s letter to the Phillipians. He addresses that there is conflict between Euodia and Syntyche, who are female disciples of Christ and fellow workers in the sharing of the gospel and “whose names are in the lamb’s book of life” (Phil 4:2). Paul is encouraging others to help these two find common ground because whatever they are at odds about is far less important than the work of the Lord, the unity of the body of Christ, and the sureity of their salvation.
I am not saying that we should not study God’s word for ourselves or strive for excellence or ignore the wisdom of the Bible because of grace. I am saying that how we walk that out is going to look different than it may for many others and that is okay. John 13:35 tells us “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you loveone another.” This is the epitome of unity and it often means agreeing to disagree with grace, love and mercy.
I’d love to hear from you. Please share in the comments what unity looks like to you and how you practice that in your walk with Christ.