Jeremy Sarber

Handling Christian disagreements

Paul says, Grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift (Eph 4:7). Does this verse apply to only our church, or did Paul have the entire body of Christ in mind?

Let’s not raise a dividing wall of hostility where one shouldn’t exist (Eph 2:14). Let’s not be guilty of undermining God’s redemptive plan, which seeks to unite God’s elect people. We’re still sinners in a sinful world, so perfect unity is not something we’re going to accomplish. But that’s not the point. God calls us to work toward unity, not against it. He calls us to lead one another and learn from one another, not create more barriers.

My wife and I sometimes watch the show Fixer Upper. If you’ve ever seen the show, then you know Chip Gaines loves demolition day. It’s a lot of fun taking a sledgehammer to the walls. It’s also a lot easier than rebuilding the walls.

Criticism is easy. Pointing out another’s flaws can make us feel good about ourselves, but what has God called us to do?

To walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

God calls us to recognize our distinct gifts and how they work together for the good of the entire body. He calls us to speak the truth in love so the whole body can mature and grow up into Christ our head. Even when the Galatians fell into terrible heresy, deceived by opponents of Christ, Paul said, You who are spiritual should restore him, the deceived person, **in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal 6:1).

Imagine what would happen if Christians everywhere tried harder to teach one another and learn from one another rather than find fault and even more reasons to separate. As long as we see in a mirror dimly, there will be factions in the body of Christ (1Co 13:12). Lord willing, however, our efforts to love and understand fellow Christians will minimize the creation of further divisions.

When dealing with someone from outside of our tribe, ask yourself, Is this person a redeemed member of the family of God?” Second, look for common ground between you. It’s there. Third, carefully listen before you assume anything. Fourth, learn what you can from them. Fifth, teach them all you can with patience and kindness. Finally, disagree if you must, but try to be as agreeable or peaceable as possible.