Unity In Differences (Romans 14:1-15:13)
While we may have differences of opinion…the final goal is always the same – build the Kingdom.
I grew up Baptist – the son of a music minster, turned youth minister, turned missionary, turned deacon, turned pastor. All under the “Baptist” heading. As I grew up the Baptist life was pretty much all I knew. When I got to high school I started meeting people from other denominations. As I spoke with these friends and we had discussions about what we believed I found that, really, we weren’t all that different. Sure there were a few things on which we disagreed, but they didn’t really seem all that important.
While attending my first year of college at Tulsa Community College I heard about Ozark Christian College. While all my friends seemed to be going to Baptist colleges around the area, I just didn’t feel that road was right for me. Upon hearing about OCC (a nondenominational college) I checked it out and decided that was the direction God was leading me. As I was immersed into a denomination that was not technically “my own” I developed a deep dissatisfaction for the denominational splits that we see within the Church. I began to have a dream of a perfect world, where one day, all the denominational walls fall and we worship together as one big Church.
It was later in my life that I began to realize and appreciate the health of different denominations. Don’t get me wrong, I still fully desire for the Church to one day come together and worship as one, but my timeline for this is now simply anticipating that day in Heaven, rather than longing for it here on earth. While I don’t agree with the reason that many churches nowadays split (one person gets mad and starts their own church, for example), I agree that it’s good to be able to come together with believers who are like-minded. We all tend to get a lot more accomplished when we are with people that we know, trust and agree with.
Let’s say I set out to build a tall table. I find out that my wife wants a tall table. In this case all is well because I was planning on building a tall table anyway! However, if I am building a tall table and my wife wants a short table, well, it may just end up being the fight of a century. Are we both trying to build a table? Yes. Will we move faster and get more done if we agree on how the table is to be built? Yes. Will we end up with a table either way? Yes. We might go about building it differently and the end result might look a little different, but we’ll still end up with a table.
I think it’s the same with the Church. While we may have differences of opinion on how the Kingdom is being built, the end result, the final goal, is always the same – build the Kingdom.
“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” – Romans 15:5-7