By Matt Friend
Do you know two Christians who always seem to get along?
I’ve met plenty who couldn’t, and you probably have as well. (Depending on the day, I sometimes don’t get along with myself.)
However, during my journey on this third rock from the sun, I’ve been privileged to meet many peaceful followers of Jesus who remain the kindest, most compassionate, peace-seeking people I know.
What’s their secret?
It’s not having the same political or cultural preferences. They don’t often prefer the same music or send their children to the same schools. They sometimes stand on different sides of the gun control debate.
Even their nuanced views on biblical details often differ from one another… Some believe that faith is a gift, while others say that faith is a choice. Some drink wine with dinner, and some don’t. Some believe the last days of earth will unfold in a particular way, while others believe end-times events will unfold in a completely different way. Some insist the earth is only 6,000 years old, while others argue that the earth is much older.
More times than not, they come from different ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds.
So… What is their secret?
#1 – They emphasize the cross, not their conflicts
In every instance, these humble people have an honest view of themselves. They are very aware of what they were (and would be) without Jesus in their lives, and they know that the cross of Christ paved the way for their peace with God.
One of the earliest and most successful missionaries, Paul the Apostle, wrote…
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ... In one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. (Ephesians 2:13, 16)
The Bible tells the wonderful, true story of good news….
God created every one of us, but every one of us have sinned against Him. As a result of our sin, we are separated from God. If we die in this separation from God, we’ll spend eternity separated from Him.
But God loves us! God sent his Son, Jesus, to be born in Bethlehem and live the perfect life we could never live. He chose to die on the cross as the payment for our sin. He arose from the grave three days later to conquer sin and death and lives today to save all who believe.
Anyone––no matter who you are or what you’ve done––can be restored to a relationship with God through faith in Jesus. Anyone who turns and trust will be forgiven all their sin and given eternal life.
Bible teacher David Platt writes, “Unity in the church is so important that Jesus died for it.”Unity in the church is so important that Jesus died for it. -David Platt Click To Tweet
#2 – They emphasize their oneness, not their walls
Early Christians, two millennia ago, knew the meaning of walls. Factions of God-followers were sometimes separated by large, stone walls. On one particular Jewish wall, the following was chiseled in stone, written in Greek and Latin, “ANY GENTILE ENTERING BEYOND THIS WALL WILL HAVE ONLY HIMSELF TO BLAME FOR HIS ENSUING DEATH.”
Suffice it to say that there was no welcoming committee or concierge.
But Paul the Apostle wrote in the Bible…
For Jesus himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2:14-18)
Christians who get along well understand that they share in the same oneness that God has experienced for all eternity (John 17). They work hard not to escalate potentially divisive matters to the point of building relational walls that God never intended (Romans 14-16). They love one another more than they love being right. They are quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to Tweet (James 1:19).Love one another more than you love being right. -Matt Friend Click To Tweet
#3 – They emphasize their unity, not their uniformity
In Ephesians 2, the great Bible chapter on unity, God describes the community of Christians (the Church) as a building made of many different parts, but assembled to make something beautiful, safe, and welcoming.
Christians who are experts in unity never try to force others to hold the same opinions, preferences, or beliefs on secondary issues. They reject uniformity while championing unity. Their motto remains, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”Christians who are experts in unity never try to force others to hold the same opinions, preferences, or beliefs on secondary issues. -Matt Friend Click To Tweet In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity. Click To Tweet
#4 – They only build their unity around what is clear and essential to the gospel of Jesus
Writing over 1900 years ago, Paul the Apostle says…
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:19-20)
Harmonious Christians major on the majors. It is of “first importance” to them “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Like Jesus, they believe there are more important and less important matters of the law; nevertheless, they refuse to “strain at gnats” while “swallowing camels” (Matthew 23:23-24).
If you’ve not yet decided to follow Jesus, determine to do so today. Believe Jesus’ good news. Receive Jesus’ good news. Pray the following in your own words…
Lord, thank you for doing everything necessary to pay for my sin and give me peace with God. I believe Jesus is Lord and offers me salvation today. I accept His free gift.
Whether that’s your conclusion or not, value unity in the world where you see it. Avoid disunity where possible.
Everybody craves unity and peace. Let’s spend our lives seeking that!Avoid disunity where possible. Everybody craves unity and peace. Let’s spend our lives seeking that! Click To Tweet
Matt Friend, a Charleston native and tenth generation West Virginian, graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has served in pastoral ministry since 2002 and at Bible Center Church since March 1, 2016 (as our sixth Lead Pastor). He and Sarah (his high school sweetheart and wife) are raising two teenage daughters, Katie and Riley, and one son, Kadyn. Together, they are advocates for adoption and all things Charleston. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, kayaking, and spending time with his family and two dogs, Queso and Sabi.
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