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The problem of being different
- Jacob Ninan
When we look at ourselves we can rejoice that God has made us so unique that there is no one else in the whole world just like us. But when we deal with other people and find that they are so different from us it can irritate us and cause a lot of problems. It is difficult to understand one another, communicate the ideas in our mind to others in a way they can understand, accommodate differences in perspectives, etc. It leads to a lot of misunderstanding, quarrels and divisions.
Even among us Christians who believe in the same God, have the same Spirit and read the same Bible differences are so many that we exist in a multitude of churches, groups and denominations. It is sad that this gives occasion for the unbelievers to mock us, but the sadder thing is that differences among us cause us to part company.
It is inevitable that coming from such different backgrounds as we do, we disagree on the interpretation of different verses in the Bible or the approach we should take on different subjects. But the question is, should every such disagreement cause us to leave one another? If I believe that 666 is symbolic and another man believes that it is a real number connected with the Antichrist why should we leave each other's company? Is it not possible for one who believes in pre-tribulation rapture to love another who holds the post-tribulation view?
Two persons cannot walk together unless they are agreed (Am.3:3). But agree on what? Where they are going, how they should get there, etc. For example, if two people disagree on whether salvation is by faith or works, whether Jesus is the only way, etc., they cannot walk or work together. If they disagree on whether it is right or wrong to tell lies, they cannot enjoy each other's fellowship. The Bible tells us to keep away from those who cause divisions, heretics, unruly Christians who will not listen to anyone, etc. (Ti.3:10;2Jn.1:10;2Th.3:14,15). Those who keep troubling us like thorns in the back also come under this category. We will have better peace of mind if we keep away from such. But we do stand to lose if we push people away or withdraw from them just because we see certain things differently.
When we disagree, we can certainly discuss our different points of view, if we are open to seeing the truth and changing. We can argue passionately about the things we are convinced about. But when we find that we are just not able to agree on something, we are still required to let brotherly love continue (He.13:1). Perhaps as time goes by we will be able to see the other person's point of view more clearly, and he ours too. But even if we are unable to agree on something, unless it is one of those serious issues, can't we accept that person as someone Christ has accepted (Ro.15:7)? Don't we realise that while we persue after perfect agreement in a realistic manner on all matters concering faith, our emphasis should be on oneness in spirit (Ep.4:3,13)?