It Should Break Our Hearts
Wednesday - March 2nd
Scripture to Read Today: Ephesians 4:1-10
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3
Unfortunately, as a shepherd of God's people, I have seen the sheep turn on one another over the years. I have witnessed tender followers of Christ deeply hurt by something another believer said or did. But, on the flip side, God has given me the honor of seeing His children sweetly come to the side of other believers and minister to them in some of life's darkest moments. In my thirty years of pastoral ministry, I have discovered the critical piece determining whether folks hurt or help each other in times of difficulty, conflict, and differences.
It comes down to how we, as God's children, approach each other when we struggle with our differences. Some people love to disagree, take a different view, or want to be the outlier. Sometimes we think being Christian means we are always at odds in this world - even with each other. We wear conflict with others in God’s family as a badge of honor or courage - when it should break our hearts.
Too many of us think our first response should be to fight when we find a point of difference or have a disagreement with a fellow Christian, a small group, a ministry, or a church. We seek to make our point known with clarity, directness, and disruption, even if it hurts others or harms our unity. These kinds of people discover a point of disagreement, make their view known, and then abruptly leave the relationship, the group, the ministry, or the church.
The Apostle Paul challenged us to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3). Therefore, as part of God's family, we should work hard to reestablish unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. When it does not happen, and we believe we must step back, we grieve that we could not restore the relationship. We sorrow that we could not find that unity we have been commanded to seek.
Over the years, I have dealt with people who sent me an email telling me why they disagreed with something and left the church. From time to time, I hear from others how they bragged about putting me (or the church) in my place. It breaks my heart to see believers who do not grieve over strained or broken relationships with other brothers and sisters in Christ. On this side of Heaven, we will have disagreements in God's family. Some will be important enough to step back from a relationship. But it should grieve us when our authentic struggle brings us to that point.
I have also known believers who have left a relationship, a group, a ministry, or a church over a convictional disagreement and truly agonized over it. They genuinely made "every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." When those folks sit with me as a friend or their pastor and must step back, their tears are real. Their hearts are sincere. They wanted unity. I wanted unity. We wanted unity together. If we could not reach a resolution, we should both be heavy-hearted. Ultimately, those differences will be ironed-out in glory. But, for now, we need to pursue unity until we deeply grieve over the necessity to step back.
How do you approach differences and disagreements within the family of God?
We should do all we can to pursue unity with other believers, and when we can't, it should break our hearts!