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Can differences bring us to a deeper love of God

Posted by on Jul 12, 2011 in blog links, unity | 9 comments

Can differences bring us to a deeper love of God

Bobby at “Deconstructing Neverland” has written a very good, very challenging post called “Contentious convictions.”

He begins by admitting (and rightly so) that we are going to have differing convictions. I mean, most of us have convictions today that differ from convictions we held last year. Why would we expect others to agree with us, when we don’t agree with ourselves after only a short time.

I like what Bobby says about this: “There is so much uncharted territory in our corrupt minds that have not yet been affected by God’s gracious transformation.”

But, the meat of Bobby’s post comes later when he talks about dealing with differing convictions (which, unfortunately, often lead to what we call “church splits”):

When people’s convictions change and their conscience leads them to take a different path, all too often the differences receive the most thought and attention. This is a bad thing when those changes become an end in themselves. It is not pleasing to God for us to focus on our differences. It is pleasing to God to focus on how our particular views and differences bring us a deeper love for Christ, a greater desire for truth, a higher regard for the welfare or others, and a stronger affection for our God.

Do you follow what Bobby is saying? Instead of focusing only on our differences, let’s focus on how those differences can bring us to deeper love of Christ. In other words, always focus on Christ – not our differences. If our differing convictions do not lead us toward Christ, then why are we holding onto them in the first place?

What do you think? Can differing convictions actually help us love Christ more?


9 Comments

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  1. 7-12-2011

    I do believe differing convictions can encourage unity, but only if people fully believe in the conviction of one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all.

    If I seek control then our differences will cause division because I won’t be able to control your convictions. But if I seek unity through peace then we will commune and celebrate each other convictions. I love Bobby’s quote, “There is so much uncharted territory in our corrupt minds that have not yet been affected by God’s gracious transformation.” Becasue it is focused on transformation – which means we must be teachable and humble. If I am not teachable than my only goal will be to wound the other person. Un-teachable is a dangerous place to be.

    Great post! Thanks.

  2. 7-12-2011

    Ryan,

    Your discussion of being “teachable” reminds me that the description of elders in 1 Timothy 3 of being “able to teach” can also be translated “teachable.”

    -Alan

  3. 7-12-2011

    Alan,

    The problem is that both sides of a difference, both agreeing on theology/doctrine, can hold, strong, sincere conviction that their personal attitude is leading towards Christ.

    As Soren Kierkegaard wrote,“The most terrible fight is not when there is one opinion against another, the most terrible is when two men say the same thing, and fight about the interpretation, and this interpretation involves a difference of quality.”

    I would much rather have honest difference of opinion maintained and allowed to be aired.

    The resolve of those who are focusing on Christ, will be reflected in the exhibition of the bonds of Christian love. Unity of heart and purpose will be revealed in all who love the Lord Jesus,who is their Master, rather than their opinions or pet theories.

  4. 7-12-2011

    I have always found it challenging that Paul said:

    “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10

    and

    “for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”

    So, he says, in effect “You must have divisions but don’t have divisions. It is in the paradox that the truth lies.

  5. 7-12-2011

    1 Corinthians 11:19 is the other passage…

  6. 7-12-2011

    Aussie John,

    Yes, I think the question we should ask ourselves is this: am I willing to treat as a brother/sister someone who disagrees with my convictions.

    Miguel,

    “It is in the paradox that the truth lies…” That is true in so much of the life of following Jesus Christ.

    -Alan

  7. 7-12-2011

    Its easy to love someone who agrees with you. Loving someone who disagrees with you requires a deeper love. I believe this is the reason God allows disagreements, so that we can learn to love each other on a deeper level.

  8. 7-13-2011

    Way back, I used to get sucked into the “we’re right, they’re wrong” sort of mentality. But as I’ve bounced around over the years, I started to realize that the reason the church has so many different denominations, philosophies and practical ways of doing things is because God reaches people with differing needs in different ways. It’s not about who’s right or wrong, it’s about “being all things to all people in order to win some to the Gospel.”

    I do think we can learn from our differences with each other. I also think that we can call someone ‘brother/sister’ if we have some differences in convictions — in almost every case, we will have more in common than the differences.

  9. 7-13-2011

    Peter,

    You could even say that love offered only to the lovable is not really love.

    dan mcm,

    Yes, those of us in Christ will always have more in common than we differ.

    -Alan