Over and over again we read in Scripture that followers of Christ are to have “one mind” or “the same mind.”
We may assume this to mean that we are all to think and act the very same way — that once we come to Christ, our individualism ought to go out the window and perfect synonymy ought to characterize we who are in the church. Kind of like robots.
But it doesn’t take long to realize that no one person is the very same (in thought or in deed), not even those within the church. All people are different, and these differences don’t just vaporize once you come to Christ. If you’ve spent even just five minutes within a church, you know that what I say is true. Conflict and division are all too common themes within churches: One church member wants things to be done one way, another member wants things to be done another way. One group in the church wants to hold on to the slightest of traditions, another group wants to try new things. Some people like hymns, others prefer contemporary worship music. So on and so forth.
Then you add in the “nature vs. nurture” effect. Because of sin, human beings are all broken — we don’t operate correctly. We are all malfunctioned, both in our nature from birth and from experiences we’ve been through in life. When you throw a bunch of people like this together, you are bound to experience conflict — even in church. This is why I believe the apostle Paul speaks of division so often (especially in 1 Corinthians 1-3) and also why he speaks of having a united mindset here in Philippians 2:1-2:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
No, we’re not robots (obviously) and we’re not called to be ones either. We are all different — in fact, God created us to be different. In a way, diversity is good! But not when it detracts from unity. As followers of Christ, we cannot let our differences with other believers get in the way of what unites us together – the gospel.
I was able have lunch with two men from church this past week. The one man is married, in his late 50′s, and has never had children. He is retired and spends a good portion of his time with his “biker buddies.” The other man works full time, is in his 30′s, and is married with two young children. Then there is me — nearly 22 years old, college student, and never married (but greatly hopes to sometime soon). Both by nature and experience, the three of us are all VERY different. But there is one thing that brings us together – Jesus Christ and our hope to spread His fame.
When conflict and division arises (Oh, and they WILL arise) and we become angry, discontent, or dissatisfied with others in our churches, we should ask ourselves:
- Is there any encouragement from being in Christ? (Yes!)
- Is there any comfort from the love of Christ? (Yes!)
- Do you have a fellowship in the Spirit from being in Christ? (Yes!)
- Is there any affection from being in Christ? (Yes!)
- Is there any sympathy from being in Christ? (Yes, Yes, YES!)
An answer of “Yes” to any of those questions ought to make you realize that no conflict or difference compares to what we have in Christ. Again, we cannot let our differences with other believers get in the way of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can be in full accord and of one mind, not because we are all the same, but because we all share the same love of Christ — WE LOVE JESUS!
Let us use the diverse gifts God has given us (cf. 1 Corinthians 12) in a cooperative spirit with other believers, because we love Jesus and because want to see others come to love Him as well.