Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.

Romans 15: 5

 

When I consider things which are nearly impossible for us humans and situations that are almost never going to happen; thinking like others, you know, having a synchronized view of the world and acting in consistent harmony of heart and mind with other people, gets a spot near the top of the list of the improbable, unlikely, and impossible. Just try driving in moderately heavy traffic for a while and see how hard it is for the drivers of all of those cars to stay in harmonious agreement about where they are going and the rules of the road that they need to follow. People just don’t want to be conformed, and we certainly don’t want to yield our own perspective to another person’s.

 

The idea that people can share a common understanding and think in a unified and harmonious manner seems to be important to God. Yet, He made us with this strong, independent and continually inquisitive nature; therefore, He must have a plan for accomplishing the desired unity of thinking without crushing the strength of our individuality out of us. This is a part of why God gave us His Spirit to live with and in us in an active and intimately interactive relationship. He also granted us His revealed truth and a clear picture of who He is through His Word. In addition to all of this, God speaks to and with each of us and with His body as we engage with Him in prayer and meditation.

 

It is through the Spirit, the Word, and in prayer that we gain an understanding of God’s true desires. It is through the acceptance of this total knowledge of God that we are given the strength of character that is required to truly understand another person’s perspective and the courage to yield our own viewpoint to that person’s. Engaging in relationships to the depth and with the commitment that is required to make them strong and to continue them over time requires the ability to stick with the other person regardless of the way things are going from moment to moment. This is perseverance, and it comes from God. Generally, we also need to be encouraged to stick with other people when there doesn’t appear to be anything to gain from doing that. It is the Spirit of Christ that continually brings that sort of encouragement into my heart. In Christ we do have the ability to believe, think, and live together in unity. We can possess the peace and the joy of honest yet harmonious relationships, and when this happens, Christ’s body is unified for His purposes.

 

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Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.

Romans 15: 5

 

Seeking to have the same mind, to think like and to act like others, does not mean that we are to be mindless and conformist. After all, we are made in God’s image, and we have the mind of Christ living in us through the Spirit. We have an imperative from God to act for Him out of our understanding and to be persuasive in our presentation of God’s truth. Thus, God wants us to be thinkers, processors of information, and people who form clear opinions about what we believe and why we believe it.

 

Still, God desires for His children to seek to be unified in our faith and to function as one organism. He tells us to present an undivided and singularly focused face to the world. This is a serious challenge, for people do hold to numerous beliefs, and there are many styles and approaches to expressing our faith through worship. The challenge is thrown down to us in just how tightly we hold onto our personal perspective of these secondary aspects of our faith; thus, our beliefs can become a source of division, causing separation, and leading to dissension and distrust. When this is the result, the beauty and the power of our witness for Christ is buried under a mound of rotting debris.

 

In fact, this is where we need to stick to the discussion with others even when it is hard. As Paul says, we need to persevere, and we need to seek to understand, to embrace, and to encourage the faith of others, too. There is one simple truth that comes to mind regarding the differences that exist in and among the body of Christ, and that is that the mind of Christ is not conflicted. He is unified, and His call to us is to likewise be unified. Seeking this sort of unity requires hard work and a soft heart. It doesn’t always happen quickly, but when it does, the glory of Christ’s love is revealed.