I was reading a Question and Answer forum on the Internet a while back and came across a “question” posed about why adherents of a certain Christian denomination did something one particular way when the Bible clearly stated to do it another. Well, first of all, the practice in question was what would be considered a debatable or questionable “gray area” (not something clearly prohibited by Scripture) and second of all, the “question” was being posed by someone claiming to represent a denomination that does things very differently. In other words, the “question” was nothing more than a direct attack against this other denomination.
Naturally, it wasn’t long before a member of the denomination under attack came to the defense of his church’s practices and proceeded to set the questioner straight about why his denomination was in fact the one that was correct in this matter. As the two went back and forth and became more and more hostile, a third party interjected the snide comment, “I just love it when Christians fight amongst themselves.”
So often we as Christians get wrapped up in bickering between ourselves over issues of no importance that we forget that we are being observed by those outside the Body of Christ. We might be disputing something that we see as vitally important, but all the unbeliever sees is disunity and rabid sectarianism. Most unbelievers do not really know the difference between Methodists and Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians, or Calvinism and Arminianism. Furthermore, they don’t really care. What they are looking at is how we live out our Christian walk, how we treat them, and how we treat other Christians. The Lord said that people would know that we are His disciples by our love for one another (John 13:35).
Genesis 13:7 points out that the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled in the land when the herdsmen of Lot and the herdsmen of Abraham disputed over that land. What did they think about these strange foreigners who served One God as they argued and bickered over whose cattle would drink from which stream? Did they shake their heads in wonder as these strangers in their land pushed and shoved one another over something so trivial?
“And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.” (Genesis 13:8)
Finally, Abraham himself intervened and appealed to his nephew, Lot, reminding him that they were brethren. Obviously, there are doctrines of the Faith that absolutely cannot be compromised. We can no more have fellowship with the heretical cults who misuse and abuse the precious name of our Lord and Savior than light can fellowship with darkness. But those who do believe the fundamental tenets of the Faith are our brethren. They may call themselves by a different denominational title, they may choose to worship in a different style, they may do things a little bit differently, but if they are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ and they worship God in Spirit and in truth, then they are our brethren.
We gain nothing in quarreling with our brethren over inconsequential matters. All we accomplish in doing so is to further distance the unbelieving Canaanites and Perizzites in our own lands from coming to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.