Unity, Liberty, and Charity
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” - (John 17:20–21)
Have you ever noticed there are some people who like to fight? They like to argue, and they are unhappy when they are happy. So they find something to get worked up about, something new to debate. They love conflict. It’s a sad way to live.
When I was a younger Christian, I felt that it was my job to set everyone straight. I had been a Christian for about a year and had been reading the Bible and going to church almost every night of the week. I thought, I’m going to set everyone straight. That was the way I was.
I knew everything. I had the answer to every question. And if you held a view different from mine, then I was going to talk you out of it and into mine.
I don’t feel that way anymore. Obviously, I want everyone to believe in Jesus. But if you have a slightly different take on a theological truth than I do, I don’t feel that it is my job to convince you. I like this statement regarding believers: “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” The word essentials refers to the most important theological doctrines like that of the Bible being the Word of God, Jesus Christ being the only way to the Father, and salvation coming through Christ and Christ alone. Those are the essentials. In essentials, unity. We don’t ever flex on essentials.
But in nonessentials, liberty. What are nonessentials? Things like the style of music. Some people like it loud. Some people like it quiet. Some people like a certain style. Some people like another style. These are secondary issues. We should never divide over them. In nonessentials, liberty.
Finally, in all things, charity, which is another word for love. Be loving.
Do you love conflict and do you want to set others straight? How much is charity a part of your approach?
Copyright © 2015 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
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