For whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
~ Mark 9:40-41 (NIV)
What is the most destructive force in Christianity? It existed while Christ was still alive, it existed in the church in A.D. 33, and it exists today. It causes Christians to argue, to despise each other, and even kill each other. It shatters the commandments of Christ in the name of Christ.
And what is it? Differences of opinion. It sounds innocuous enough. In fact, we should realize, that differences of opinion seem practically inevitable when even two people converse about an important topic, much less two billion. The problem is not that we might disagree with what someone else says about God, the Bible, Christianity, or theology. Differences of opinion will always occur, because none of us knows the complete truth, and we will not know the complete truth during this life. “ For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)
The problem is not that we disagree. The problem is how we handle it.
Our innate pride tells us we are right. We grab onto our own idea and give it the status of God’s Word. We tacitly give our own brain the status of God. We make ourselves into a god. Our breathtaking failure of humility tells us, “I am right and they are wrong.”
And from there we move our ideas into the equal of God’s Word. We transform ourselves from humble servants to infallible modern-day prophets, and it is us and nobody else who understands and speaks God’s truth.
God did not tell us to create theology that seems right to us. God commanded us to love one another. He commanded us to live in unity! In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul commands us in the name of God that “that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” He then asks the penetrating rhetorical question: “Is Christ divided?”
The further problem, here, is one of self-reference. If I read the Bible to say something, and somebody else who calls himself a Christian says something different, our brain tells us that it is not Christ who is divided by my aggression towards such a person. Rather, I tell myself, he is not living in Christ at all.
Today’s memory quote completely disarms such logic. Really, to understand how wide Christ casts His net, we must read the entire passage. “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.’” (Mark 9:38-40)
Christ will include in His fold anyone who performs a miracle in His name, basically: Anyone who will give us a glass of water in His name.
If another person confesses Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior, we must — in the name of Christ, and in obedience to His direct commandment — not speak evil of them! It is not given to us to judge others, and especially, not to judge who Christ has saved or will save.
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”
Heavenly Father how it must grieve Your holy Spirit that we have caused such barriers and divisions to be established within the body of Christ and yet it was His prayer that we are one in unity of spirit – one in the bond of peace – one in fellowship and love towards all those that are called by Your name.
Forgive us of our unbiblical prejudices and un-Christian principles – forgive me of my own biases and unloving attitude that I have towards other believers that do not conform completely to my own developed perspective of what a Christian should be. Forgive me for being too quick to criticize other brothers and sisters in Christ and for being too ready to declare our differences and denounce them as unfit for fellowship, rather that seeking to discover our similarities in Christ, and rejoicing that our citizenship is in heaven.
Help me Lord to love others as You have loved me – to love without prejudice or bias. Help me to be ready and willing to love the unlovable and to consent to be loved by others I would likely dismiss.
Bind Your people together in love and in the unity of spirit and the bond of peace and guide we pray, into all truth - knowing that You are no respecter of persons – and that ALL who trust in Your sacrifice at Calvary are forgiven sinners, citizens of heaven and accepted by the Father, in the Beloved, in Whose name we pray, Amen.
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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
What is the most destructive force in Christianity?