Q. I have several Christian friends, but we all seem to believe different things! When it comes to things like creationism or even using cuss words, we just don't agree. I always say, "Well, what matters is that we agree that Jesus is our Savior." Secretly though, their different beliefs bug me. What can I do about this frustration?
A. I understand your frustration. Why do we have to be so different? Why can't we agree on everything and decide conclusively what's right and what's wrong?
I don't have an easy answer for each and every issue that Christians disagree on. But there's an old saying that goes, "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity." Applied to Christians, this means being united in believing Jesus Christ, God's son, died for our sins. That's essential. But in matters that aren't directly addressed in the Bible (like politics, worship styles, etc.), we should give each other some liberty. And in all cases, we should extend grace and love.
Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35, NIV). Disagreements like you've mentioned are the proving ground for love. It wouldn't be hard to love your clone. But when you can show love for those who don't believe what you believe (even people you're sure are just wrong!), Jesus says it's a sign you're one of his true followers.
Marshall, a former pastor, is editor of Leadership, a magazine for pastors.
Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today/Ignite Your Faith magazine.
Click here for reprint information on Ignite Your Faith.