There is probably no greater test of the love we have for one another and the unity in Christ that we proclaim than when we come to a place of disagreement. When your love is tested there is no need to participate in a spiritual tug-of-war.
For much of the Body of Christ there is no real problem with disagreement. They like me were taught in error that doctrine formed the basis of our unity. Our predecessors used the Paul and Barnabas disagreement as an excuse to justify everyone going their separate ways.
That is why today there are so many independent congregations and thousands of denominations. We have divided the Body of Christ in so many pieces that she has no influence on the culture and no power to impact a generation. If you are at peace with the status quo you have no need to continue to read anything more.
I write to those who have come to the place where they believe that Christ, who is love, is our one true foundation and the rudder that keeps us on the straight and narrow.
I write to those that understand that real relationships are the glue that keeps the Church of Jesus Christ working together as one man. Love is the cement between the living stones.
I write to those that believe like Billy Graham, who said, “My job is to love, the Holy Spirit’s job is to convict, and God’s job to judge.”
I write to those who believe that love precedes doctrine and there is no truth without love. Even faith works by love.
Finally, I write to those that understand that our greatest effect on society will come from the testimony of the love we have for one another.
John 13:35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” NKJV
Recently I have come to a place of disagreement with someone I have been walking with for many years. How does this happen? In our culture it’s very easy. We are separated miles apart and we come under different influences in our lives. Real relationships come at a great price and much time must be invested in them to keep them functioning properly. The time to set in place relationship–saving action is not after a rift has set in, but before.
In essence we have come to a difference as to focus and primary objectives. The finish line remains the same. We have just come to a place where we each feel we believe differently on how we get there. We must love enough to provide the freedom to allow for those differences without each going our separate ways.
There are three things that can happen if love is allowed to persevere and the fourth is the most important to all.
- The Lord may change my brother’s mind after a while and he may then need my help to stand and refocus.
- The Lord may change my mind and I will need his help to stand and refocus.
- Neither of us changes our mind and we will each personally stand before the Lord and be judged concerning how we stewarded what was given to us.
- We will be seen working together and loving each other in spite of our differences. Loving, preferring and honoring each other like sons who have the same Father.
I can hear you now, “I have never heard of anyone staying together after they disagreed.” Yes, but it has to start somewhere. Why not with you and me? Let’s look at some steps we can take to make sure that the Lord is glorified in all we do.
The First Steps to Potential Reconciliation when your Love is Tested
- Have a sit down and let each party explain the How and the Why of how each of them think. This opens the door to understanding. Obviously Paul and Barnabas failed to do it right because the Bible says they had a heated debate. The Lord needs no Sheriffs in His Kingdom and none of us want to appear to be a Pope. Peaceful and respectful discussions are signs of maturity for elders in His Body.
- Refuse to air (with a spirit of contention) these differences before the family of God. People are at different places in their walk and we do not want to appear as one who is trying to draw people to our side of the argument.
- This in no ways cheapens our passion, leaning or drive towards a certain focus. We can continue to move forward without calling a name or refuting each other. Go ahead and follow your hearts just make sure you do not pull down your brother to move forward.
- Offenses cannot be avoided. Let love for one another heal and move on. If moving on separates, you may continue to be part of the problem and not the example of brotherly love that His Church so desperately needs at this time.
- Finally a warning concerning social media. My recommendation is you agree to disagree and not post contentious, combative comments on each other’s thread, stream or wall. I have found that for me it is best if I just don’t comment. I am sorry but I would make a lousy politician. I simply cannot speak as the Indian say “with a forked tongue.” So for the sake of the King and His Kingdom I am out.
In my particular case, discussion on the subject is not really needed. We understand each other’s gifting and leanings. We are old dogs and there is no teaching each other. What I mean is we fully understand both sides of the discussion, so we would not even attempt to school each other. These debates are common in the bible but without division.
Here is Peter commenting on Paul’s teaching. This is after Paul publicly scolded Peter for hypocrisy concerning the Gentiles.
2 Peter 3:14-16
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. NKJV
Peter says Paul is his beloved brother. Peter also says Paul has taught some things that as far as he is concerned are hard to understand. He doesn’t judge Paul, his doctrine or methodology.
I once followed the history of revival from the Welsh revival clear through to the Toronto revival. I found that each proceeding leader disagreed with the new move of God causing the younger leader to leave and separate from the movement that birthed them. This is truly a sad commentary!
We recently lost Myles Monroe of Bahamas Faith Ministries to a plane accident. He was on his way to his yearly leadership conference where the subject he wished to discuss was the failure of the old guard to “pass the baton” to the next generation.
What am I trying to say here? I will speak for myself. I wish to raise up sons that are not clones of me. I hope they attain everything I failed to attain for our Lord and King. There is no doubt that those who have been discipled by me will have their earthly father’s and hopefully the Heavenly Father’s imprint. To say you have only the Heavenly Father’s imprint is an illusion or arrogance at best.
I am sixty years old and I have been pushed away by at least five spiritual fathers in my span of twenty seven years of ministry. The buck stops here. I pledge not to push away any brother from me for differences in focus or methodology. I will not participate in any group or congregation that breeds division. I will push for the new but I will always honor the old. If a price has to be paid to mark a new trail I am willing to pay it.
I may be strange but I love confrontation. I love to talk things out. I now love working with people through conflict but I wasn’t always like this. I understand disagreements will come. I just choose that as long as it depends on me I will go the extra mile. My prayer is that the Lord has spoken to you as you read this article concerning how you respond when brothers disagree. May we lead differently than our predecessors!
Jose L Bosque