Once we are able to embrace who we are, the next step is to be willing to accept the differences of others.
We are all different, we come from different place in the country and even the world. We have different backgrounds, goals, needs, and even beliefs. That doesn’t mean that we cannot live in true unity with one another.
Our team of MAF missionaries all come from different places and walks of life. We have had to learn to overlook some differences in one another for the higher purpose of living and working in unity. We live in a community that is not primarily Christian, and we feel so strongly that our testimony of unity in the body of Christ is important that we are willing to overlook the differences in one another.
I’m not saying that it is easy, but we work at it in order to promote the bonds of peace and the unity that only Christ can bring as we live and work and minister together.
Ephesians 4:2 says, “..with all humility and gentleness with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.”
Living in unity doesn’t mean that we agree with everyone else’s beliefs, it doesn’t even mean supporting beliefs that you strongly disagree with, but it does mean being willing to love the person behind the belief. And, if necessary, taking your concern in conficence to that particular person. Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” Sometimes the most loving thing we can do when we disagree with someone is to love them enough to speak the truth in love, but behind closed doors.
We have to be willing to stand for truth, but to do so in love and with grace. And when we feel that one of us is straying, loving that person enough to come alongside of them, to have the hard conversation, to seek truth together, instead of speaking ill of them.
We need to have the courage to speak to one another, instead of about one another.
True unity isn’t agreeing with everyone on everything. It isn’t always getting along and never having conflict. True unity is working through the mess together, not giving up on one another, and spurring one another on in love and truth. And, there are certainly times where love means quietly stepping back from a friendship, if there is a true impasse. BUT, continuing to love the person and staying committed to their ultimate good.
Think for a minute: Is there someone that you have wronged in this area? Perhaps you have been so intent on standing for truth, you forgot to do it in love? Or maybe there is someone who really rubs you the wrong way and you have spoken ill of them either online or behind the scenes. If so, you may want to think of asking that person’s forgiveness.
Ephesians 4:31-32 encourages us to, “ Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
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