"...and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." Titus 2:14
I probably pass over 50 local churches on my journey to church every Sunday. Can anyone who does this claim that there is unity in the faith without looking like a total hypocrite? I hope so. For the chief attribute in Christ's Church is that it is a sacred society, unified under their Lord and leader, Jesus Christ. This unity is both inward and outward. The inward unity is expressed as the unity of the Spirit, of faith, of charity or love, and of hope. The outward signs of unity are the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
I meet a lot of people who will tell you that they know their doctrine and that their practice in Christian worship are straight from the Word of God. They often look like they have just lost a dear friend or close relative to death, or worse, to a practice or church that is not perfect. Examples of this could easily be multiplied, but I will remind you of the most famous. Roger Williams was thrown out of Massachusetts in the 1600's because he was a strong advocate of religious freedom. The Puritans were not so generous, and so he was exiled. What became of the champion of toleration? By the end of his life he could only worship and take the Lord's Supper with himself. Sadly, even his wife was not holy enough to worship with him.
I struggle with Christian charity or love when I see something I don't like. I have learned to pick my battles carefully and to give the benefit of the doubt, seventy times seven (Matt 18:22). I have also met a lot of people who struggle with being gracious when something in church, or, some personality trait in so and so, is driving them nuts. One of the most helpful things for me to remember has been, "Oh, yea, I plan to spend eternity with this dope." It also often helps me to remember how much grace I have been cut both, by others, and by my Lord Jesus Christ. Reminding ourselves of the grace we have found in Christ just might help us extend it to others and thus increase our fellowship and unity.
"Genuine fellowship comes when Christians stop relating to one another as righteous saints and accept one another as unrighteous sinners." David Watson
Soli Deo Gloria,