May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
Relate: I recently read an article from Relevant Magazine pointing out how some major theologians of the past would not be considered evangelical if they were around today. To be honest, it was not a very well written or researched article, I am surprised and disappointed that it made it by the censors of what at one time in the distant past I considered a great (shall I say… Relevant?) magazine. That said, the sentiment of the article was spot on. We today are far more (and far too) concerned with orthodoxy where we should be focusing on unity.
Honestly, I do not like a lot of major big name influential preachers these days. Joel Osteen… he preaches far too much about blessing and not nearly enough about repentance. But he has a message of love and encouragement that many desperately need to hear. Steven Furtik… I am not a fan sometimes of his analogies or illustrations. But man, that guy can preach and people are clearly getting saved and lives changed through his ministry. The Gospel Coalition… they are coming dangerously close to making an idol out of the concept “the gospel” (No, it isn’t the gospel that saves it is Jesus who saves. No it isn’t the gospel that convicts, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts). But they have some great online resources I have used over and over again. I could go on and on nitpicking both current figures like Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels… and historical ones like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Soren Kierkegaard, CS Lewis, George MacDonald… but does all this focus on differences really do anything at all in advancing the Kingdom. If the devil is the accuser of the brethren, how often are well-meaning complainers little more than tools of the devil?
React: Jesus died. Jesus rose. Jesus saves. Those three things I will go to bat for. If you cannot recognize the historical veracity and theological significance of those three things then you are not my brother or sister. But if we can agree on those three things, then let us sing together. If that for you means lighting incense and listening to Gregorian chant, let’s do it. If it means jumping around with flags and blowing the shofar, let the noise blow out. If you would rather not wash your hair for weeks on end and sing around a campfire in the woods with an acoustic guitar and some 60’s tunes… why not? Whether we are high church or house church, hillsongs or hymns, multi-site megachurch or a tiny country church that rarely hits thirty people… so what? You are my brother. You are my sister. One day we will all join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why not start now?
Help me to love even those I have a hard time liking. In my desire to learn and know and study more and more of You, help me not to turn against those who know less or understand differently who You are. Even as my mind grows and strives in obedience to the call to learn more of You, help my love and heart to remain simple and my desire for unity among Your family remain wrapped around the most basic of truths. Let my voice join in with the global, diverse, multifaceted song of worship to You.