Monday, November 17, 2008

When Christians Don't Get Along

I am sad to admit that we Christians, who claim to follow the Prince of Peace, are pretty pugnacious people when it comes to matters of faith. We fight with one another. For two thousand years we have argued and fought over the nature of God, the meaning of the sacrament, who may minister, the suitability of homosexuals, the gifts of women, and so many other things. In local congregations we argue and fight over any number of issues from the use of the endowment fund to when bells should be rung. We really can be idiots sometimes! Even Christ Himself locked horns on many occasions with the idiots of His day, so I am not saying we should never disagree and we should always go with whatever is presented, but there must be some guidelines.

A few nights ago I had words with someone at my church. It was not pleasant. He told me to “Get out!” I was stunned. Did I have it coming though? Was I acting inappropriately? I keep replaying the evening over and over in my mind. This morning, to help me understand it and other fighting we sometimes do at church, I turned to someone who always helps me in these matters: Blessed Paul the Apostle. I his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter thirteen, he helped me open my eyes. If you are not familiar with it, Saint Paul tells his audience that they may have all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but unless they first have love, these gifts mean nothing.
In John 13:35, Jesus instructed: "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for each other." There it is again - love. I have written here about that so many times. It keeps coming back to the same thing though. Love. Love for our God we all agree is necessary, but love for each other is important too! When we truly love each other we tend to not fight? Perhaps. At least if we disagree, we do it in a kindly way.

It is sad when Christians don't get along. I see this way too often. I have written this as though I am speaking of others. The truth is that I am more guilty of this than many. I have been unnecessarily critical of the priest's sermon or the choir's music or even the manner of decoration or content of the service sheet in church. Am I doing this out of love? Am I being petty? Would I not feel better if I made my comments with love always being formost in my thoughts?

What do you think?

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