I have just started an older book, written in 1981, by Paul Billheimer, called Love Covers.
It seems as though the Lord keeps putting books in my path on the subject of love. It has been my pursuit for several years now and very probably will be my main pursuit for the remainder of my days upon this earth. I am thoroughly convinced love, God's agape love, it the answer to all of life's problems.
Each author I have read over the last couple of years seems to have a slightly different insight that keeps building my desire to continue this pursuit.
In the introduction, the author states very soberly: “The most important, momentous, crucial, but the most ignored, neglected and unsolved problem that has faced the Church from its infancy to the present throbbing moment is the problem of disunity. The continuous and widespread fragmentation of the Church has been the scandal of the ages. It has been Satan's master strategy. The sin of disunity probably has caused more souls to be lost than all other sins combined.” Notice he calls disunity a sin.
His premise is that the “primary, fundamental and distinguishing basis for fellowship (unity) is shared ancestry rather than shared theories, concepts or opinions.” “If this means anything at all it means that fellowship between born-again believers, members of the same family, should be on the basis of common spiritual parentage (God is the Father of us all) rather than common opinions on non-essentials to salvation.”
This so strikes a note of truth to me, something that I may not have ever articulated as well as this author, but something that my heart has longed for and attempted for many, many years. Many of us might not even agree on the “essentials to salvation”, but we have to start somewhere, with some common ground and a lot of willingness to lay our lives (thoughts, opinions, etc) down for our “weaker brethren” (or our opinion that he is weaker!).
I do understand that the depth of fellowship is certainly dependent upon the degree of agreement (or disagreement) upon our own theological persuasions. However, we must attempt to have some measure of fellowship (unity) with everyone that is part of the true family of God. Family is more important than theological agreement. We must remember that every member of God's family is very precious to Him. Remember that each member of the family can have equal access and fellowship with the Heavenly Father.
In the natural, I am closer to some of my family members than others. Some of it has to do with similarities that we share — a love for the outdoors, certain foods or restaurants, books, animals can create a special bond. I have one great nephew that was born on my birthday and now that he is getting a little older (turned 9 this past year) we can spend a little time, making some memories. I have another niece I helped to raise when her mom was struggling to provide for the family after their daddy decided to “do his own thing.” She is 30-plus now and we are as close as two sisters or a mother and daughter. We have a lot in common in the Lord and enjoy one another's company. I have other nieces and nephews that I feel like I barely even know. We have spent very little time together and have not built the memories that I would have liked. Life's circumstances have played a part in that, but so have choices. I did not pursue them, nor did they seek out my fellowship. But we are blood and as the old adage goes “blood is thicker than water.”
Doctrine is important. Correct doctrine — truth — even having a strong opinion, is not wrong. What is wrong is when we allow our opinions to break fellowship with another born-again member of the same family. Jesus prayer in John 17 was that we would be one, just as He and His Father are one. Let us pray that the Lord would help us to see one another as He sees us, part of His family, who should love and respect each other.