Do we need to work on our doctrinal statements until we find unity?
Does having doctrinal statements create unity or do they create divisions?
Doctrinal statements may help define what it takes to be united within a certain group... but what does it do to those on the outside of the well defined list of beliefs?
Colossians 3:13-15 (NIV)
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.Or would a renewed focus on love be a better way forward?
Is that why Jesus focused on love as the greatest commandment... is that why love is the true mark of a disciple of Christ. Is it possible that we could look past our differences when we recognize true love in each other?
When I recognize true love for the same Jesus I love, I am able to look past disagreements on less essential matters.
When I understand God's love extended to towards me, and recognize that He also loves others who follow different traditions, I am able to recognize that we are part of the same family.
I also recognize that when I know someone loves and respects me... I have an easier time discussing disagreements. If we start with love and respect... we may actually make progress on doctrines as well.
So... to make this practical...
If you are a 4 point Calvinist, think Hell is eternal torment for the wicked, and love the penal substitutionary atonement theory... if you love Jesus... let's celebrate that as we encourage each other to follow God's leading in our lives.
... Or if you believe the Pope has a unique position of authority in the church, pray to Mary, and follow some other traditions that seem different to me... if you love the same Jesus I do... let's recognize that and encourage each other to follow that Jesus whom we love.
... Or if you _____(fill in your own blank here if you are one of the 30,000 different Christian denominations not included in the previous two statements... I don't want to leave you out) _____ .... if you love the same Jesus I do... let's recognize that and encourage each other to follow that Jesus whom we love.