Must Christians Agree on Everything? #288
Hello friends and happy Saturday to you! Our Bible passages for today include 1 Kings 14, Psalms 95-96, Ezekiel 43 and Philippians 4. Today was a delightful day for our family that ended with fireworks, like many nights around here. We went to a lovely little pumpkin patch in the Salinas area, bought a half dozen pumpkins and one strange goard looking thing, went through a free corn maze that was surprisingly not haunted with ghosts, or supernatural serial killers, or creepy children, and had a lovely old time. Since my lovely wife is out of town, we’ve been rotating the cooking duties, and Kassidy and Chloe, our eldest and 3rd handled the cooking and made an amazing Parmigiana chicken in bell peppers with pasta dish. Last night Abbey, our second born, made some amazing pie and delicious potato soup from scratch. When it is my turn to cook tomorrow night, I’ll be using my cooking skills to whip up some Doordash – everybody’s favorite pandemic company right about now…along with Zoom, I suppose.
We didn’t literally have fireworks tonight…we had metaphorical fireworks – a hurt feelings fight between two siblings. What caused it? I’m not exactly sure – it was kind of like World War I, or the Crimean war…lots of loud noises and explosions, but nobody was quite sure what exactly ignited the continent. Fortunately for us, no Archduke’s were assassinated, but when I read Philippians 4, tonights focus passage, and hear Paul pleading with two lovely ladies to agree…I can nod a hearty amen to that. There is something beautiful about agreement, isn’t there? In our passage tonight, we find this jewel of a verse:
2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I also ask you, true partner, to help these women who have contended for the gospel at my side, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers whose names are in the book of life.
I want you to consider those two verses – in particular, consider what is missing. Let’s read the whole passage, and see if you see the thing that you might believe Paul should have said.
I think it is very telling that Paul does not pass judgment on this situation about who is right or wrong…he just tells these women to agree — which leads us to our focus question: Must Christians be in agreement? Believe it, or not – I think the answer is yes, and the reason I think that is because the Bible outright commands it! Consider these passages that call us to unity and agreement, in particular the first one, which explicitly commands agreement:
10 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. 11 For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by members of Chloe’s people, that there is rivalry among you. 1 Corinthians 1:10-11
“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice. Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2nd Corinthians 13:11
“16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” Romans 12:16
“Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus,” Romans 15:5
“2 If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” Philippians 2:2-3
“8 Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, 9 not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8
Here are six different commands – just a small slice of the Bible’s call for Christians to be in unity and agreement with each other. You might think that is impossible, but I will point you back to the passages, especially 1 Corinthians 1:10-11. Agree with each other. Be united with each other. NO DIVISIONS. Be like-minded. Be sympathetic. Think the same way. Be united in spirit. Live in harmony (2x) Have the same mind. It is said in SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS that I don’t believe we can or should ignore it.
So often our concern in a dispute is which one is right and which one is wrong. It is my considered opinion that that the vast majority of conflicts I have seen among Christians over the years does NOT display a strong right or wrong side. Don’t get me wrong – there are definitely some conflicts where the position of one side is FAR more biblically true than the position of the other side, and I do not believe that we should compromise the Word of God in order to agree with somebody…but I estimate that 90+ percent of the conflicts that Christians have with each other are not right or wrong, but things like:
What worship style should this church feature?
What masking policy should we have?
How should our family/school/church respond to coronavirus?
Should our church move, build, rebuild, hire somebody, add this program, remove that program, change this element, add this element, do this event, etc.
How involved (or uninvolved) should a Christian be politically?
What is your position on Prop 35,421q?
What EXACTLY should be done about the race problems in this country?
Etc, etc, etc. All of those discussions definitely have some biblical dimensions to them, but none of them are clearly outlined in the Bible, and regardless – the Bible commands us to AGREE, be in harmony, no divisions, etc.
How do we agree? I think step #1 is supremely important: We must recognize first and foremost that we MUST agree – it’s not an option for the people of Jesus to quarrel and fight, no matter how important the issue might seem.
Unfortunately, and yet, very realistically, I need to tell you that there is no step by step instruction in the Bible on coming together in agreement over every issue. You MUST do it, and I MUST do it, because anything less than us being in agreement will drive people away from the good news of Jesus:
20 “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word.21 May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.22 I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one.23 I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.
Our disagreement mutes our proclamation of the gospel and our unity SHOUTS it. So – what do we do? We speak the truth in love. We outdo each other in showing honor. We display the humility of Christ. We consider each other better than ourselves. We don’t demand to be first, like Diotrephes. We refuse to quarrel, knowing the Lord’s servants must not quarrel. We display patient love and longsuffering. We greet each other with a holy kiss. We love our neighbor as ourselves. We keep our eyes on jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and we love our enemies, pray for those who curse us, and do good for all, especially those who are Christians. There is no miracle way to come into agreement – it is one of the hardest tasks we have in front of us, but so much of the Bible is written to tell us how to treat each other, and ALL of that is absolutely applicable to this call to unity and agreement. SO – I plead with you: BE IN AGREEMENT.