James 4:11-12 Don't speak evil against each other, my dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize each other and condemn each other, then you are criticizing and condemning God's law. But you are not a judge who can decide whether the law is right or wrong. Your job is to obey it. God alone, who made the law, can rightly judge among us. He alone has the power to save or destroy. So what right do you have to condemn your neighbor?
Why is it that we find it so hard to listen to what James is saying here? There are very few church bodies out there who do not struggle with this. Most of us as individuals struggle with this. We have a need to be right and when someone doesn't agree with us we are quick to dismiss their opinions as wrong. We rarely are able to listen to what others believe and think it through. We know what we believe based on what we have been taught. We accept what the teachings of our particular church teaches and don't question them. We seldom ask ourselves if perhaps there might be another equally valid way to understand a text or doctrinal teaching. Rather than take an honest look at what others teach, we dismiss it and proclaim them to be wrong. Period. Depending on how strong our convictions are, we speak evil of those who think differently than us. We claim to have THE correct understanding of the Word and often avoid those who don't agree with us.
But, who are we to stand in a position of judgment? What makes us so wise that we have perfect understanding of the Word? Granted, we have the Spirit within us who guides us into proper understandings of the truth, but why then are there so many different interpretations of certain texts to the point where we are divided? Perhaps we need to mellow a bit on our staunch stand on some things and strive to be one in Christ instead of so many. As long as we do not mess with what the Lord did for us on Calvary, there is room in the Kingdom for all of us. We are one in Christ. The cross is our rallying point. We all have the same status before God through the cross. Jesus is our Savior and He is all we need in order to make it to heaven.
We waste way too much of our time and energy squabbling over the fine print. We are not called by God to have perfect understanding; we are called to obey the Word as we understand it. Our understanding evolves as we grow into maturity of faith. We often have to readjust our thoughts as we grow older and wiser in the faith. We don't have any right to condemn one another when we think differently about things. We can discuss our differences in a loving way for our mutual benefit and when we can't agree over something we accept our differences in love and let Christ unite us together in Him.
If changes in understanding needs to be done, the Lord will see to it that it happens in His perfect timing and ways. In the meantime, let's act like the one body we are in Christ.