Live in Harmony
It requires skill and godliness to disagree graciously. It’s easy to get along with people with whom we share everything in common, where there is no concern about disagreement. But to live in harmony with people who look different and live differently than we do—that is a true sign of Christian maturity. So the expectation of the apostle Paul is that as Christians we will make the effort to do just that.
Paul’s call toward harmony is not a call toward a type of uniformity, where we all dress the same, act the same, vote the same, and talk the same. Indeed, the church in Rome was most certainly a varied group of people, diverse in background and in gifting. Paul emphasized that these differences were not to become a source of division or shame.
As the King James Version renders this verse, Paul wanted the Roman church to “be of the same mind one toward another.” In just the same way, he appealed to the Corinthians, “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).
The gospel does not erase our distinctions or our disagreements. In fact, the unity that God’s people share in the main things—the gospel of Christ and the truth of His word—frees us to acknowledge our distinctions and disagreements on secondary matters. Christian unity does not lie ultimately in our politics, our social status, or what color we think the carpet should be, but in the one whom we know to be “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Sadly, churches can be distracted by their disagreements, and Christians can elevate their personal concerns and preferences too highly. Some of us make every issue into one to divide over, and so we become legalists, splitting hairs and never happy until we are in a church of one. Some of us find it hard to make any issue one we will stand on and not compromise over, and so we become theological liberals, letting central gospel truths become negotiable. The harmony Paul calls us to contend for is gospel harmony. We need to know ourselves well enough to discern whether we are prone to be legalists or liberals. We need to ask God to grant us clarity of mind and charity of heart toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. And then we need to take a moment to examine our hearts to see if there is anyone with whom we are not in accord and take steps to promote, and not corrode, the gospel harmony that Christ died to bring us into.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
When Brothers Dwell in Unity
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!1
2It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
3It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
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