Summary: We will not live in harmony with one another until we learn humility.
Harmony missing in marriages, families, and churches.
The Big Idea: We will not live in harmony with one another until we learn HUMILITY.
1. Harmony is ESSENTIAL for believers.
The NT emphasizes the importance of harmony among believers:
• Paul urged the Corinthians, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10 (quickview) ).
• Paul told the Ephesians that Christians are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3 (quickview) ), and that the Lord gives gifts to the church “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13 (quickview) ).
• Paul can command the church to live in unity because there already is an actual spiritual unity in Christ which exists among genuine believers. He says, “There is one body…” (Ephesians 4:4-6 (quickview) ).
The NT writers give strong warnings against those who cause divisions:
• “I urge you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites” (Romans 16:17-18 (quickview) a).
• Consistent with this NT emphasis on the unity of believers is the fact that the direct commands to separate from other people are always commands to separate from unbelievers, not from Christians with whom one disagrees. When Paul says, “Therefore come out from them, and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17 (quickview) ), it is in support of his opening command of that section, “Do not be yoked together [mismatched] with unbelievers” (v. 14).
• Of course, there is a kind of church discipline that requires separation from an individual who is causing trouble within the church (Matthew 18:17 (quickview) 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 (quickview) ), and there may be other reasons for which Christians conclude that separation is required, but there are no direct NT commands to separate from Christians with whom one has doctrinal difficulties (unless those differences involve such serious heresy that the Christian faith itself is denied).