One of the surest facts of life is the title of this page. Catholics distrust baptists, Methodists distrust Charismatics, Jews distrust Lutherans (and Nazis), Mormons distrust fundamentalists, and Adventists distrust everybody. And it’s a sad fact because the vast majority of all religion does far more good than evil. So why is there division? Probably because all religions tend to be very complicated systems of thought and people may not have the capacity or time to understand other slants on the subject. Then a lot of folks just like to argue. Then we have the Bible which can be (and is) analyzed to the nth degree to determine who is wrong & right. But if God is LOVE & MERCY, we too should display those traits in dealing with the subject to avoid division.
I believe one of the main challenges of life is how to disagree gracefully and still be friends (or friendly.)My cousin who is a successful Catholic missionary nun says, “we need to stop fighting each other.” We should focus on what we have in common and not on all the negative dividing minor points. We should know exactly why & what we believe, but have diplomacy, grace, and avoid ugliness, judgement, and division. (After all, God is the real judge & he might think we fall short too . . . .) Romans 3:23
Now Jesus Christ came along about 2000 years ago for many reasons. One important reason was to create division in religion. See Matthew 10:34 And when He said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me” John 14:6, the "atomic bomb" was dropped. And his statements of deity are exactly why the religious leaders had him executed. But He knew his purpose. “I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 He was generous enough to carefully explain his thinking - all four gospels are loaded with his thoughts. He was generous enough to give healings & raise 3 folks from the tomb & coffin. He usually avoided direct controversy by speaking in parables. And he faced rank division with the pharisees with grace & dignity. But he was uncompromising - even to death for his cause. And he rose from the dead to fully authenticate his mission.
Now too many people in their religious zeal think they are on a martyr mission also. But that attitude does divide. Jesus is the savior - we are not. In view of the peaceful nature of Christianity, we should be peacemakers, Matthew 5:9 and not division makers. I have seen rude arguments and a hateful spirit on the doorstep of the home when religious peddlers come by. I avoid that “like the plague.” Ugly division only does more evil than good. And the clergyman with advanced degrees who focuses on why all others are wrong is a pitiful case of divine love & character. Having tact and diplomacy (and avoiding battles) seems to be more useful virtues. Yes, we may have the audacity to hold firmly to that “lost & saved” stuff, and various Bible doctrines, but there is a real need to be discreet & avoid “division.” Among other things American poet Walt Whitman said, “argue not concerning God.”
This essay is not an appeal for ecumenical thought (but I do lean in that direction). It is not to say that all religions alike lead to God. The point is this – when anyone makes a stand with & for Jesus, regardless of denomination, they will quickly learn about religious division, but the worst of it can be avoided. It can be avoided by focusing on the love & divinity of Christ & not the pettiness & politics of religion. Take the high road. . . . Choose Jesus & his Spirit – they are alive. And just love some of those you are supposed to hate. See also "Love & Hate" link 124
Many other Titles: www.gospelnotes.net - Link 1 is Index * * F.J. Stone * *