Although among Christians, there are essential areas of unity, disputable issues are prevalent. I believe at least two foundational principles are non-negotiable: Jesus is the only way for salvation, and salvation is by His grace and not by our own merit.
There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name (than Jesus) under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Churches and individuals have divided on innumerable (irreconcilable?) differences. Some may involve interpretation of Biblical doctrine including creation, the end times or the Holy Spirit while other disputes may focus on current issues, opinions, or conscience. Should Christians drink alcohol? Will pets go to heaven? Should there be gun-control? Recycling?
Whatever we do or say, we are representing Christ to others in the church and world.
If we have a different view than another believer, what should govern our interactions with him/her? Paul’s letters give us several instructions.
1 Corinthians 13:2 If I have the gift of prophesy and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have faith so as to move mountains, but if I do not have love, I am nothing.
1 Timothy 1:5 The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
1 Timothy 1:6-7 Some men straying from these, have turned aside to fruitless discussion…even though they do not understand what they are saying in which they make confident assertions
2 Timothy 2:14, 16-17,23-26 Solemnly charge them not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers…Avoid worldly and empty chatter for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene…Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition.
Sometimes I get pretty intense about what I think the Bible says or what I believe is the correct thing to do. But overall, I want to put on love because I will be spending eternity with these brothers and sisters who think differently that I do. I don’t want my life to be characterized by proving I am right but by loving well.