Why do people end friendships because one person goes to another church organization? Why is it so hard even among Christians to get along? Don’t we realize that a house divided cannot stand?
These questions keep coming to me. In fact, I wrote a song about this very problem. It bothers me a lot. I have friends in different types of organizations from organized COGs to independents. We all have the same fundamental beliefs. The only difference is where they feel more at home for worshipping and fellowshipping. My family likes to visit multiple groups, others like to go to the same place all the time. Does it really matter? Does it make someone more of a Christian because of where they attend? Personally, I think the most important thing is who we are and how we behave ourselves, rather than where we attend.
I want to learn what type of character traits I should have as a Christian. I realized the other day that there are certain characters in books that stand out for me. I am drawn to them by their personalities. Two that come to my mind that are my all-time favorite characters are Ann Elliot from Persuasion by Jane Austin and the priest, Monseigneur Bienvenu, in Les Miserables. The reason I love these characters is because they are extremely humble, gentle, caring, loving, and forgiving. Hmm, I think those traits sound very familiar.
Finally, be all of one mind, sympathizing, full of brotherly love, tender hearted, humble minded; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; but on the contrary, blessingothers, because ye have been called to this, that ye should inherit blessing. For he that will love life and see good days, let him cause his tongue to cease from evil and his lips that they speak no guile. And let him avoid evil, and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:8-11).
Peter’s words are not easy to do. It is hard to tame the tongue. Anyone who does not offend in word, “the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). I am grateful that God knows that to give a blessing when someone is being evil to you is hard. In fact, humanly speaking, it is probably impossible. That is why we have the Holy Spirit in us to give us the compassion and the strength to live a life of peace, but we have to listen to that still small voice and act accordingly. God is not going to force us to behave. He will help us, but we have to do the behaving.
We must remember to “not act out of selfish ambition or conceit, but with humility think of others as being better than yourselves. Do not be concerned about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). This is what Christians are supposed to be and how they are to act. We do not all have to agree with each other to live in unity, but we do have to love each other.