There is much diversity in the world. Even within the Church there are great differences. Some of our differences are worth arguing over because they are divisive and lead away from Christ. But there are many things that separate us which are not worth dividing us. It has been said that good fences make good neighbors. The Christian community is not filled with clones. Within the body of Christ there are differences we can and must live with. We are a family of unity, not uniformity.
I literally cannot list all of the areas where there are livable differences. But perhaps you can look at some of these thoughts from the apostle Paul and see the application in today's experience.
Don’t argue about doubtful issues.
Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind.
For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and came to life for this: that He might rule over both the dead and the living. But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the tribunal of God.
Each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way.
We must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.
Do you have a conviction? Keep it to yourself before God.
All of this comes from Romans chapter 14. Paul is helping Christian deal with various personal convictions within the Church that can divide, but should not. They had some people who would not eat certain kinds of food because they believed God had called them to abstain. Others did not have the same leading. Others believed they should observe certain days of celebration and worship while others did not have specific leading and treated all days the same. This was causing division. Food and holidays were causing division in the Church. Satan really doesn't care how he divides Christians, as long as he does. He will use anything.
Sound familiar? Today there are cultural things and even religious elements that cause separation and even division. Some people believe strongly one way. Others, another way. Personal convictions are important. It is part of our 'working out our salvation in fear and trembling.' Personal convictions are evidence that God is a personal God. They help keep us all accountable. Even if you don't hold to a certain conviction, the conviction of another can cause you to think about values and priorities.
A personal conviction is supposed to be a point of principle, but can easily become a point of pride. It is supposed to be an extension of a personal relationship with God, but can easily become an extinguisher of relationships with people. It is supposed to be a way of enhancing a walk of holiness, but can easily become a wall of division between brothers and sisters. God gives us personal convictions to separate us from sin not saints.
Instead of simply being convinced in our own minds of how God wants us to walk out our faith, we end up trying to convince others that they must hold to our convictions, and in the process walk over their faith. At that point, our personal convictions are of no worth. If God calls you to live a certain way, live it out. As God's people, we should live out our personal convictions in a way that is appealing... not appalling.
Today you will have the opportunity to see someone else's conviction and pray that God will build them up through it, or be offended and try to argue them out of it. Treat them and their convictions like you want them to treat you and your convictions. God gave us our convictions. Let's not misuse them, or the people holding them. We are not here to be convincers, but Christians.
DISCLAIMER - Usually I deal with a topic and then post a verse or passage in context to show how the Bible speaks to that topic. Today I admittedly picked verses from a passage that dealt with the topic, but leaving other verses out. I was not trying to force the passage, or misuse the verses for my own purposes. The Biblical context was very specific to a certain application, but the principle is broad enough to touch our lives today.
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.