I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment
This verse and others like it have been popping up in my studies rather frequently lately. I don’t want to write about this verse. I’d rather write about just about anything else. Which is why, of course, I need to write about it even though, if I’m honest, it makes me uncomfortable because it steps on my toes right now.
The past few months I have been involved in a series of rather unfortunate disagreements with someone. From my point of view, I have been unfairly and repeatedly attacked out of nowhere. I feel as if I’ve done nothing wrong, that I have made every accommodation possible and that truly there’s nothing I can do right in regards to this particular person. If I’m fair, I will grudgingly admit that the other person probably also believes they have done nothing wrong.
So what do you do when you disagree or feel like you’re being attacked? Society says fight back – tit for tat. Now, I’m a peace loving person. I hate confrontation. I’ll do just about anything to avoid it. But at the same time, I shouldn’t have to let someone walk all over me, right? I should be able to stand up for myself when it gets to a certain point, right?
Well, what does the Bible say? This verse says let there be no divisions among you, but be united. Matthew 5:39-41 says “Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.”
*sigh* That’s a bit uncomfortable, and not at all what I want to do.
What happens when there is conflicts within a physical family? It’s awkward. The tension is felt through the whole family. Why do we expect that it will be any different with our spiritual family? As Christians, our goal is to bring glory to God in everything we do. So, is my disagreement bringing Him glory? or is it actually hindering the work?
The Holy Spirit through Paul says not to be divided. Elsewhere we are told to Outdo one another in showing honor (Rom 12:10) or as the King James has it “it honor preferring one another.” (Do you hear that sound? Yeah, that’s the sound of my toes being stomped on with this verse!) As Christians we are to love our brothers and sisters with an agape love – a self sacrificing kind of love. That means I put the needs and desires of others above my own – or at least I should.
We are not called to fit in with our society, or to live like the world. We are called to lead radically different lives. That includes how we handles arguments and disagreements. I need to be accommodating. I need to be loving and merciful and forgiving, even at the expense of my own ego. I need to remember that it’s not about me and getting my way, but it’s about God and bringing Him glory.
In my life I need to exhibit the same characteristics and attitudes that God has displayed towards me. For my part when disagreements happen, I need to emulate Christ, regardless of how the other person reacts. I simply need to do my part.
In case I’m misunderstood, let me clarify: disagreements happen. We can having differing opinions or ideas about things. We cannot let those disagreements get in the way of our affection for one another nor the work of the Lord. I’m not saying that we baby people, but we need to keep our priorities right. We need to do our part in that, understanding that there are serious admonitions about our attitudes and actions toward one another: 1 Tim 3:11, 2 Tim 3, 1 Pet 2:12, Gal 5, Col 3:8, 1 Tim 6, Eph 4:9, etc
Bottom line: I need to worry about living a life that reflects the love of Christ fully, even if that means I need to sacrifice my own desires. I pray that the Lord will help me make this necessary change in my attitude.