Life of Christ 94
First, if the other group is God's people, and they are genuinely preaching Christ, then let us endeavor to live at peace with them (Mark 9.50). Paul phrased it this way in a prison epistle, 'What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice; yea, and will rejoice' (Philippians 1.18).
I am an independent, fundamental Baptist, and each of those three main words is very important to me. I'm conservative, traditional, and what many label as old-fashioned in what I believe about music, dress standards, and church philosophy. I'm premillennial in doctrine. I only use the King James Version of the Bible. I've endeavored to carefully study out these issues, and to explain to both my church and my friends why I hold these positions. I do not apologize for doing this, and I plan to keep doing it. But – that doesn't mean that I'm to view my brother in Christ who disagrees with me about any or all of those as the enemy. He isn't. He's still my brother in Christ. This doesn't mean that our church is going to yoke up with the new evangelical churches in town, or that I'm going to run out and join the local pastor's fellowship. It does mean I don't view those who hold contrary positions with enmity, and it does mean that I seek to live at peace with them.
Many years ago my wife sought out a group of young mothers with which to fellowship. This group, which went by the acronym MOPS (mothers of pre-schoolers) met at a local new evangelical church on Friday mornings. In the process of attending she became good friends with the pastor's wife in that church. As the years have passed she has remained good friends with this sweet lady, and, indeed, our families have also enjoyed fellowship together. The truth is that they probably disagree with most of what I described about myself in the paragraph above. But the other truth is that, while I keep the boundaries of my doctrine and church intact, we still enjoy the occasional family meal together. We don't discuss where we disagree. We don't minister together. But we do live at peace one with another.
This ought to be true, as well, not just about those brethren in Christ with whom we have doctrinal disagreements, but also with those with whom we have personality conflicts. There are other IFB pastors in this city who have, to one extent or another, personally disappointed me, not with their doctrine or morals, but with the way they have handled things in relation to me or to my church. There are men who have gone out of their way to ruin special meetings in our church, or proselyte my members, or refuse the simple courtesy of returning a phone call. But I have forgiven them in my heart, and I hope they have likewise forgiven the mistakes I have made, perhaps, toward them. As far as I know, our church is at peace with all of the other area churches that preach Christ. God is my witness that I take this seriously, and that I work hard at it.
Beloved, we can stand for what is important to us without doing it in a mean spirit, or without turning our brethren in Christ who disagree with us into the enemy. They aren't the enemy. The devil is.
Secondly, we are to be more focused on preserving the purity of our doctrinal, practical, and spiritual position then we are focused on pounding the other guy where he's wrong. 'Have salt in yourselves' (Mark 9.50) our Saviour said.
I think the majority of the churches that preach Christ in my city are going about it the wrong way, and I've sought to teach our church why they are wrong so that our church doesn't go in the wrong direction itself. But having said that, my church ought to be more concerned with how it is doing in relation to God than we are concerned with how the ethnic Baptist church plant four blocks away from us is doing. Are we real? Are we holy? Are we pure? How is our heart? How is our faith? How is our compassion? How is our doctrine? How is our relationship with the Lord? What is the spiritual temperature and condition of our young people, or our witnessing, or our generosity, or our missions support, of our praising, of our Sunday School teachers, of our deacons, of our pastor, of our choir, of our fathers, of our marriages, of our senior citizens, of our classes, and yes, even of our nursery?
Jesus put His finger smack dab on the best way to keep peace one with another, between brethren in Christ, and between different churches.
Matthew 7.3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
If your church isn't at peace with some other area church, fix it. If your heart isn't filled with love for all of God's people, fix it. If you are guilty of picking out the faults of every other church in your city, but you haven't examined your own heart since 1963, fix it.
Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.