I have to say in my twenty-seven years of ministry, I have not seen a more potentially divisive time as we are in now.  I see many Christians vigorously debating various issues related to Covid-19, government overreach, conspiracy theories and so much more.  It should not be surprising to us there are various opinions being shared by Christ followers concerning our present day which come from every point across the spectrum. What should surprise us is friendships are being strained (if not broken), sides are being drawn and local churches are in danger of fracturing due to these and other non-Gospel issues.

Opposing opinions in the church are nothing new and the Bible talks about what we should do when there are legitimate disagreements about cultural issues that can divide us. 

Chapter fourteen in the book Romans addresses a cultural issue that had the potential of dividing the church. The potentially divisive issue was over a religious observance concerning food and special days of worship. One group in the church argued there were specific rules Christians must follow in terms of the food they were allowed to eat and also the days they consider as important for worship.  The other group in the church disagreed and emphasized they were free in Christ in relation to the foods they ate and the days they observed for worship. 

How did Paul address this tense situation? Concerning food, the Apostle says, The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them (Romans 14:3).  In other words, he tells one group to stop looking down on their fellow Christian for observing dietary restrictions as an act of worship, while at the same time admonishing the other group of Christians to not become overly righteous in their rule keeping by condemning those who don’t observe the same dietary rules.  After all, God has made both groups with differing opinions righteous by the blood of Jesus.  

Regarding whether or not to keep special days for observance, Paul tells the church “let each one be fully convinced in his own mind” (14:5).  Thus, if one group sees certain times as obligatory for worship, such people should observe them as a special day. If others disagree, then they should hold fast to their opinion and therefore are not obligated to keep such observances. The bottom line for Paul is each group should avoid disunity in the church at all costs when holding to their opinions. In fact, he tells them to “make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification…and not destroy the work of God” (14:19-20).  The work of God is to build the church and the church remains strong when unity in Christ has a greater weight than personal opinions.

The Gospel is the primary issue of the Church.  Having a good relationship with God and our neighbors is central to our faith. Of course we will always have a numerous opportunites to express a diversity of opinions in our information laden age. However, if we let our opinions on the current state of affairs conflict with loving our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and yes even our enemies (see Matthew 5:44), we’ve moved into a place of judgement and lose our ability to be graceful towards others.  

So go ahead, disagree with other’s about issues related to Covid-19, but remember to be kind (and perhaps, in some cases, wearing a mask for someone who has a concern about catching the virus is kinder than not doing so).  Feel free to offer your opinion of how to best heal racial brokenness in the twenty-first century, but don’t turn a blind eye to the injustice in our world  (justice is central to the Gospel).  Just because you disagree with someone, especially someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ, does not mean you can pull away from them. In fact, in the Spirit of unity, you should seek to draw closer. If we pull away from our brothers and sisters due to opinions on secondary issues, we inadvertently are pulling away from God who tells us our love for Him and others is inextricable.

Peace and unity in Christ,

Pastor Jeff

15 Comments

  1. Karen Vincent on July 9, 2020 at 8:32 am

    Great thoughts Pastor Jeff! I agree 💯!

    • jeff on July 9, 2020 at 11:25 am

      Thanks Karen…blessings to you!

  2. Karen Vincent on July 9, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Great thoughts Pastor Jeff! I agree 💯! We need to put Christ over our own opinions.

  3. Dana Blackwood on July 9, 2020 at 11:07 am

    This is a great reminder of the truth held within the Gospel message.

    • jeff on July 9, 2020 at 11:11 am

      I need to remind myself how precious people are who have been created in God’s image. This can be obscured when they have different opinions from my own; especially those opinions I for which I have a strong passion.

      • Debbie Taylor on July 10, 2020 at 1:16 pm

        I agree with everything You said Pastor Jeff.

  4. Chris Ridler on July 9, 2020 at 11:20 am

    So very well said. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jeff!

    • jeff on July 9, 2020 at 11:26 am

      Thanks Chris…peace to you!

      • Carol Book on July 9, 2020 at 1:42 pm

        We are one in the Spirit, and the world should see that we are Christians by our LOVE!
        Thanks for the reminder, Jeff.

  5. Charlie Vincent on July 9, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Amen and thanks Pastor Jeff.

  6. Brian on July 9, 2020 at 6:02 pm

    Hi Jeff. I am thankful that my church isn’t one of those churches that’s breaking. I will say that there has been some tension because we are still worshipping outside with a PA and FM transmitter each week but on the whole I think COVID has brought out some serious love in the people of Talking Rock First Baptist Church. Folks have been stepping up and doing so much more than they ever have. It has been beautiful. God has a way of using our circumstances to make us who He wants us to be. Thanks for posting brother and I hope this report from the brethren up north encourages you. Some churches are digging in and getting stronger!

    • jeff on July 10, 2020 at 11:15 am

      Brian, I am so glad your congregation as practicing unity. It takes love and forbearance to walk agreed in the essentials when our opinions may differ on the nonessentials.

  7. Pam Godfrey on July 10, 2020 at 6:14 am

    Thank you for speaking plainly. I have been concerned about this very early in this whole pandemic. Any distraction from Christian love and unity among us is a great tactic of Satan, to which we so easily stumble. We need to boldly spread the truth of His Word rather than debate opinions. I appreciate your stand.

    • jeff on July 10, 2020 at 11:14 am

      Thanks Pam…

  8. Bob Neal on July 10, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    Thank you Pastor Jeff. We’re living in a stressful period right now where it seems, from a Christian perspective, ‘right is wrong and wrong is right’ and, as Believers, our feelings/emotions sometimes carry over into our discussions/relationships among ourselves causing even further divisiveness! We all need to try harder to put these verses of scripture into action. Thanks for sharing!

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