I have been reading "The Weekly Messenger" by John Armstrong. I always enjoy reading his thoughts. His thoughts this week was about his ministry for many years. He said, "I was practically unloving, unkind and a tenacious Reformed theologian for many years. I cut myself off from brothers (and especially sisters since I was often a misogynist in my attitudes) if they did not believe in “sovereign grace.” The emphasis in my life was not grace as a relational truth, but “sovereign” grace. By this mental turn I could conveniently reject a host of Christians (while admitting privately they were my brothers and sisters) by saying to myself, “I am being faithful to the gospel of grace here and they have compromised the faith.” I even had my select quotes from the history of the Protestantism. (After all, all the martyrs were on our side, all the truth was proclaimed by our special heroes, and all the errors were taught by those on the other side.) If you did not hold my convictions I would tolerate you but I would not embrace you freely, gladly, graciously, as a mature, serious Christ-centered brother/sister.
I can hear the response of a few. Doesn’t the truth matter? Are you just buying into love, sweet love? No, the truth really matters but don’t forget that John 13:34-35, is the truth too. And don’t forget that Jesus prayed John 17:20-24 and really meant it. (All the special pleading for an invisible Church here simply doesn’t work.) The divisions that separate Christians are sometimes necessary but quite often they are more the result of sin. As one reminded me recently, “When we celebrate annually the birth of our respective denomination we would be more faithful if we repented and grieved over the historical facts of our past.”
When the truth of love and relational unity is compromised, on the altar of vigorous theological opinion, the result is that a lost world does not see or hear our message as it should. Christ’s kingdom suffers violence. I bring grief to my Lord’s heart."
John has made me see that we are to hold to the truths of the gospel, but our calling to to love one another also. This is a tough balance but it can be done. Scripture says, "they will know we are disciples by our love". How well are you able to minister to all the people of God? That will say more about your faith in Christ, than all the books that you have read.