Scripture is clear that God hates discord and fighting among His children (2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:15; James 3:14, 4:1-3). Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” If every believer lived by that rule, arguing would virtually disappear. Any parent frowns upon bickering between siblings, and God is a Father who also frowns on it. However, there are three key words in this question that deserve attention: Christians, always, and arguing.
First, the term Christians has been badly misused in recent years. Anyone who celebrates Christmas or who attends church occasionally can claim to be a “Christian.” However, according to Jesus, “Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Much of the fighting and ugliness we hear about is between people who might go by the name of “Christian” but who are not true followers of Christ. Selfish ambition, pride, and greed can rule within a church full of unbelievers just as in the rest of the world. There are whole denominations that are so far from the truth detailed in the Bible that they can hardly be classified as Christian (see Revelation 3:17-18). So, we should keep in mind that much of the arguing is between unsaved people posing as believers.
Second, the term always is a bit misleading. If we weed out those who are not truly born again and look only at the relationships among the real disciples of Christ, there is much to celebrate. Thousands of charitable organizations have been created by Christians working together in harmony. They are not “always” arguing. Most Spirit-filled churches have a large core of solid Christians who unselfishly use their time, talents, and money to serve their church and community without bickering. The media are quick to showcase anything negative within the church but are strangely silent about the thousands of praiseworthy deeds done every day by Christians working together in love.
The church of Jesus Christ is a family. Those who have placed their faith in Christ are allowing His Spirit to transform them and have been adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:15). And, as with any family, there are disagreements. There are personality clashes, differing opinions, and ideas that won’t work together. When each is convinced that his or her way is the only right way, the clash can be permanent. However, differences of opinion do not always produce negative results. Even the apostles had disagreements. In Acts 15:36-41, we read of Paul and Barnabas having such a sharp contention that they split up, chose new ministry partners, and went separate ways. The result was that even more churches were planted and God’s message was spread to more people. Paul and Barnabas eventually reconciled and continued together to spread the gospel.
The third term, arguing, also needs to be addressed. A discussion between sharply contrasting viewpoints is not necessarily an argument. The deity of Christ, salvation through faith, and the need for repentance are not negotiable. But some secondary issues in God’s Word leave room for differences of opinion. Some common disagreements pertain to end-times prophecy, gifts of the Spirit, baptism, and church organization. While there is only one accurate interpretation of everything in the Bible, a human being’s ability to discern that one interpretation can be faulty. Two godly men can see the same issue differently. Most church denominations arose out of these contrasting interpretations. But those denominations are not necessarily embroiled in an “argument” with each other.
Paul addresses this in Romans 14. He warns believers to welcome those new to the faith who may have convictions that differ from those of the seasoned saint. Verse 5 says, “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.” In other words, there are some issues that are not weighty matters, and we need to practice grace in accepting the sincerely held convictions of other believers. Doing so consistently would eliminate much of the arguing that taints the reputation of the body of Christ. We must study God’s Word and express what we believe it teaches (2 Timothy 2:15), but we must do so with humility and love, giving grace to other believers who see things differently (1 Corinthians 13:1-2).
Ultimately, we all answer to our Father for how we treat each other (Matthew 12:36). Every child of God should remember that our Father places far more importance on our showing love than He does on our being “right” on every issue (1 John 4:20-21).
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