“My prayer for all of them is that they will be one,
just as you and I are one, Father –
that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us,
and the world will believe you sent me.”
Right before Jesus was arrested and killed, He prayed for His followers to be as unified as He and the Father. This unity would cause people to realize that Jesus was Who He said He was.
The book of Acts records the unity found in the early church as a result of their complete dependence on the Holy Spirit. They saw their numbers MULTIPLY as God’s power fell upon them. Fast forward to today. We are now a church DIVIDED, each denomination claiming to have the edge on truth. It’s a far cry from the unity Jesus envisioned for us.
God gave us the Bible, a written revelation of Himself, which was written over many years by many different men who wrote as God directed them. (2 Timothy 3:16) The problem is that we all view the Bible through our own lenses of culture and personality…resulting in DIVISION…if handled incorrectly.
Jesus told us that the Father would send us a Counselor who would teach us all we needed to know. (John 14:26) Without the Holy Spirit, nothing in the Bible would make sense to us. Disagreements over “truth” can lead us to DIVISION when we depend on our own intellect….or they can lead us to greater unity as we earnestly seek the guidance of our Counselor.
- What do you do when a teaching doesn’t appear to match what you have been taught?
- What do you do when someone insists on a different definition of modesty than yours?
- What do you do when teachings you have heard all your life are exposed as false?
- What do you do when a respected leader mistreats others?
- What do you do when science contradicts a traditional interpretation of Genesis 1?
We can fight for our traditions and create more DIVISION. We can separate from those with whom we disagree. We can stifle these questions and create more unrest.
Or we can earnestly seek Jesus…
First, realize that there is ONE God, which means there is one source of truth. This one God gave us our Bible. The Bible IS our reliable source of truth. Truth never contradict God’s Word. However, truth might contract our unintentional misconceptions.
Second, be humble enough to realize that you might not have the right interpretation of the Bible. God’s Word will never fail, but our interpretations can and sometimes do. (Mine have…many times!)
Third, don’t idolize your spiritual heroes. Heroes, by definition, are great men. Just realize that they are still men—flawed like we are. No matter how good their intentions, even the best Bible teachers can be wrong. Forgive them when they make mistakes. Give them the same grace we would appreciate when we are wrong.
Fourth, study the Bible for yourself, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you into truth.
- Read several translations of the Bible passage in question.
- Consult multiple sources of Bible commentary.
- Look back at original Hebrew or Greek words.
- Listen to several varying opinions on that topic. Expand your podcast selection.(Proverbs 11:14)
- Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and discernment.
You and your “opponent” might come to an agreement…or you may agree to disagree. Whether or not your position about a subject changes, you will preserve relationships and avoid unnecessary DIVISION when you approach disagreements with humility.
When others see our unity in love, despite disagreement, we will be poised to make a difference. Our numbers will MULTIPLY as they see the Holy Spirit bring unity to those who once fought.
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship,
and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all,
and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.
And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.
They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.
They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper,
and shared their meals with great joy and generosity —
all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.
And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.“
Acts 2:42-47 NLT
Blog article adapted from its original form