Each Thursday morning I meet with four other pastors for prayer, discussion, and encouragement. We have a great time of laughter and fellowship. I look forward to each meeting, but it’s not your typical group of pastors… we’re not from the same denomination. I am a Southern Baptist, three are Church of Christ, and one is a PCA Presbyterian. One pastor is in his 30s, two in their 40s, one is his 50s, and then one in his 70s. Talk about diversity of theological and generational types!
Last Friday night we all got together with our wives for a time of fellowship. For three and a half hours we introduced ourselves, laughed, talked about our respective ministry journeys, discussed a little theology, and fellowshipped. Not one single time was there an argument… tense moment… or theological debate. Peace and harmony reigned.
To have a Southern Baptist… Presbyterian… and three Church of Christ pastors together and it not degenerate into theological debating is unusual! Just some of the usual theological differences are: Once saved always saved versus loss of salvation; Calvinism versus Free-will; Baptism by immersion versus christening versus immersion required for salvation; frequency of the Lord’s Supper… then music and worhsip styles… just to name a few. YET we have a bond and friendship that transcends the finer points of doctrine. Consider two passages from Romans…
Romans 14:1 “As for the one who is weak in faith (Who believes different from us?), welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”
Romans 15:2 “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
I am growing to love Jim, Keith, Mark, and Scott more and more each week. Sure we have theological differences, but that doesn’t make us enemies! If anything it enhances our affection for one another.
My prayer is that those within the churches we serve would have the same spirit toward one another. My prayer also is that those of different denominations would love, respect, and honor those of other traditions just as passionatly. Were those things to happen, maybe the world would start believing our message about the Gospel of Jesus Christ!