God wants His children to “live together in unity”:
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” Psalm 133:1
God’s children are those who believe in Jesus:
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” Romans 10:9-10
His children are described in Philippians 2:1 as “being united in Christ”, comforted “from his love”, sharing in “the Spirit” and having received His “tenderness and compassion”:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2
God’s joy will be complete of His children are “like-minded”, “being one in spirit and of one mind.”
This does not mean that Christians agree on everything. These verses are talking about attitude or mindset, as is shown by the verses that follow:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…taking the very nature of a servant…” Philippians 2:3-7
We are to “value others above yourselves” and “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…taking the very nature of a servant”.
The mindset of Jesus was love:
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:13-15
We are “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. If we obey Jesus, we are His friends!
Since God loved us by sacrificing His Son for us, we should love each other, sometimes sacrificially:
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11
We should not judge each other. We should discern between right and wrong actions, but when our judgement is unrighteous, we do not pray in love for the other person/persons. Consider these verses:
“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.” Romans 14:4-6
Whatever we do we should do for the Lord. Maybe He is telling one person one thing and another something else. These verses show that there can be disagreements without a wrong or right solution. We should each do as we feel the Lord would have us do.
Christians agree on major doctrines, or else they wouldn’t be genuine Christians. There can be disagreement on other issues:
“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.” Colossians 2:16
Perhaps there is a right or wrong belief – a wrong belief is usually held because of ignorance or prejudice. We can consider why and how something is done and if we want to change or not. We should always pray for the situation.
We should not argue:
“Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” Proverbs 17:14
“Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin; whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.” Proverbs 17:19
“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Proverbs 20:3
Among the consequences of arguing is giving a poor example to unbelievers about the character of Jesus:
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life…” Philippians 2:14-16
It is important to keep the perspective of Jesus:
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11
We can speak kind words to stop a quarrel:
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
It is important to stay calm:
“If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great offenses to rest.” Ecclesiastes 10:4
Perhaps we notice another Christian doing something against God. We should pray about the situation, asking if we should do anything. If they have done something against us, it might be necessary that we confront them. We are given instructions about how to handle a serious disagreement:
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17
We should talk to the person with whom we have a disagreement as the first course of action. Too often, we voice our complaint to several other people before going to that person, and perhaps we never confront them.
“Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.” Proverbs 11:1
If we get no satisfactory answer, we should chose others to go with us to talk to the person that has wronged us. If they will not listen, we should go to the church. If they will not listen to the decision of the church, we should consider the matter closed, but also, unfortunately, our trust of and friendship with the offending person.
God wants us even to suffer wrong if need be instead of bringing a lawsuit against a brother:
“The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” 1 Corinthians 6:7
We must be careful to do what God would have us do in difficult situations: we must be careful to glorify Him:
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” Romans 12:17-19
Whatever the outcome on earth, someday we will all stand before the judgment Seat of Christ:
“…we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 5:10
Ideally, there will be reconciliation so we can all stand before Jesus with a clear conscience.
Jesus had perfect peace – we can also if we trust in Him:
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” Isaiah 26:3
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
We are “called to peace”.
It is our responsibility to not only have good relations with other people, but do our part to make sure others have good relationships:
“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9
Jesus considers peacemakers “children of God.”:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9
Peace is one of our spiritual weapons:
“and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:15
We should always be ready to promote peace.
We should support, defend, help and pray for other believers:
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:10
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18
When we work together, much is done for the Kingdom of God:
“A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisors.” Proverbs 24
A nation is kept strong by the unity of those who seek God:
“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.” Proverbs 11:14
We can expect great things when we obey and work with other Christians in unity:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21