Unity, Fellowship, and the Line in the Sand. . .
by Pastor David Palmer
There is perhaps no greater need for Christian unity, than exists in the world today. Local churches are often disconnected from one another, and even sometimes look at the church down the street with suspicion. It seems that we have become territorial, and other churches are viewed as competition. Certainly it’s easy to be “unified” when everyone believes the same thing, but what about when beliefs begin to differ. Many Christians feel threatened by different viewpoints, and tend to turn them into major theological debates. We have a tendency to view everyone with a different viewpoint as a heretic, thus we want to “correct” their thinking. The truth is, not every difference of opinion is a heresy, and sometimes we need to be a bit flexible in what we “allow” other Christians to believe.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about merging the many different denominations, to do so would simply cause confusion, and hinder everyone’s ability to worship. Our God is a God of order, so we need to minimize confusion. I firmly believe that individual churches need to maintain their autonomy, but there is no reason that we can’t work together when necessary, in an effort to grow God’s kingdom, without being suspicious or territorial. I am certainly no stranger to differing viewpoints, consider my background. I was raised Presbyterian, and got saved at 23 years old when the Baptists “caught” me. I began to attend an independent Baptist church, which I eventually left to join a Southern Baptist church. I was educated in an independent seminary, and now serve as a pastor of a Southern Baptist church, but I also fill the pulpit of a non-denominational church as necessary. The other pastor in our church was raised Methodist, and began his ministry in the Methodist church. He was educated in a Lutheran seminary, but is now a Southern Baptist pastor. I have no doubt that the Body of Christ is called to be unified, but how far should we go in accepting differing viewpoints? Well, there is a line in the sand, so to speak, and we’ll get to that in due time. First; however, we need to look at what unity really means…
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