Isaiah 1-2 Galatians 5
“The whole law is made complete in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ If you go on hurting each other and tearing each other apart, be careful, or you will completely destroy each other.” (Galatians 5:14-15 NCV)
The problem with religious squabbles is that there’s a whole world outside of our religious circles that needs to hear the good news about Jesus, and instead of showing love and grace to those people, we’re demonstrating that if they hear and accept the word of grace, they can expect to get embroiled in our foolish arguments. Paul made it very clear: if you want to follow the law, listen to what Jesus said and love your neighbor as yourself, otherwise the spiritual bloodbath will continue. There’s no victory in being the only church standing after a spiritual dispute, but there’s joy when God’s people live in unity.
In spite of this warning from Paul, religious groups still tend to squabble. Usually those fights tend to deal with areas of doctrine that both sides believe will affect salvation. I can understand the intensity of belief involved in those discussions, but I can’t understand forgetting all other aspects of my religion to enforce my belief in salvation. Another reason religious groups attack each other is when one of the groups has problems. A large denomination is having some major problems right now. Rather than attack them, we need to pray for them. A large percentage of people who separate from a religious group because of problems never get involved in their relationship with God again. The truth is that all religious groups have some kind of doctrinal error; God loves them anyway. All religious groups endure times when their leadership is publicly shamed for their sins. While the shame may be deserved, we aren’t called to attack, we’re called to pray because God loves them anyway. Jesus told us that people would know that we’re Christians by our love for each other. Paul also reminded us of His response to the question about the greatest commandment. Throughout the Bible we’re commanded to love our fellow Christians. Maybe if the world saw us loving each other, even when we’re wrong, they might really believe that God can love them, even though they’ve sinned. Let’s show that kind of love to the people around us.
Lord, I must be so hard to love, but You love me anyway. Remind me of that when I look at my brothers and sisters in Christ who may believe or behave differently than I do. Help me to love them and show that love in front of a world that’s starving to understand and experience Your love.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.