Despite being in the mountains of West Virginia we are everything but excluded from people. Everywhere we turn, look, or move there are people. In Morgantown, there are people, when students are back, lots of people. My guess is there are lots of people in your city as well, and with those people come problems.
Lots of problems. But does it have to be this way?
Our churches and ministries are full of people who see things differently. We all come from different backgrounds and beliefs. At Faith, we have people from all different backgrounds, ages, and churches. Doctrinally we must be the same, but in other areas we are not.
There are those in our midst who would die for the King James and we have people who would rather die than use the King James. We have people who wear ties and those who wouldn’t be buried in a tie. We have John Calvins on one side of the church and John Wesleys on the other. I have those who voted for Biden and those I hope never find out who voted for Biden… AND I LOVE IT!!
So how can we as God’s people disagree and still get along? Can we honestly have fellowship one with another (I John 1:7) and not see things the way they do?
YES! We don’t answer to each other and my members don’t answer to me. “It is before his own master that he stands or falls.” I am the master of none.
It sounds easy in writing but how do we practically practice church unity when we don’t all agree? Let’s find out from Matthew 5!
1. Love Them.
Love covers a multitude of sins. If I love my brothers and sisters in Christ I am going to be able to love them despite the fact they watch Fox News or CNN. I will love them with God’s love which is unconditional and unbiased. The disciples were on different pages in a variety of ways yet Jesus told them to love one another so the outside world would know they were truly His disciples.
2. Pray for Them.
Not that they would start using your favorite translation, but pray for them that their love would grow for Christ and others. Pray that they continually follow Christ and live sincere lives without offense before God and others. (To see the outline on how to pray read Phil. 1:9-11).
3. Bless Them.
Send an encouraging note or text to someone who you know does not necessarily do things the same way you do. Have them over for a meal or take them out for coffee. If they are a Democrat ask them how they feel the current administration is doing and keep your comments to yourself (If you do this I will pay for the meal)!
4. Turn the Other Cheek.
When someone gives their opinion or does something you don’t necessarily agree with it does not mean they are against or attacking you. We tend to take things way to personally at times. A person you have not talked to in months might post something on Facebook that you know is directed toward you. When the truth is they haven’t thought about you in months and don’t even follow you on social media. Even if it is a subtle attack on you, it is ok, just turn the other cheek and keep going.
5. Go the Extra Mile.
We must be like-minded. We must have a common goal. Surely we must rely on His grace, and the Spirit to guide us in His grace when dealing with others. These things require being hard and objective about our faults and silent in our judgments of others, and being quick to observe our defects and infirmities, but ready to overlook and make allowances for the defects of others. We must have love for one another. This requires that we interest ourselves and involve ourselves in the lives of others. “The entire population of the world-with one minor exception-is composed of other people.” Therefore let us concentrate more on edification and less on degradation by gossip.
6. Give the Shirt Off Your Back.
Do what you can to encourage and help those who we might not always agree with. Volunteer to babysit for the mom who does it all wrong, provide a large salad for dinner for that “crazy” vegetarian family. You might even send an anonymous financial gift in the mail to someone in need (not a check)!
Vince Lombardi, the famed GBP football coach, was a feared disciplinarian but a great motivator. One day he chewed out a player who had missed several blocking assignments. After practice, Lombardi stormed into the locker room and saw that the player was sitting at his locker, head down, dejected.
Lombardi messed up his hair, patted him on the shoulder, and said, “One of these days, you’re going to be the best guard in the NFL.” That player was Jerry Kramer, who said, “Lombardi’s encouragement had a tremendous impact on my whole life.” He went on to be a five-time pro-bowler, is in the GBP hall of fame, and is a member of the NFL’s All-50-year team.
It was the encouragement, not the criticism that made the difference.
Trying to implement all six of these points might seem like a daunting task so allow me to encourage you to take one of these teachings of Jesus and make it your goal over the weekend.
Dr. Treg Spicer is the Senior Pastor of the Faith Baptist Church in Morgantown, West Virginia. With a leadership track record of success, Pastor Spicer is here to serve you. Learn more about Dr. Spicer by visiting www.tregspicer.com.