Maintaining unity in the body of Christ

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. — I Corinthians 1:10

A seminary professor used to begin every semester by bringing in a large jar full of beans. He would then ask his students to guess how many beans were in the jar, and on a big pad of paper wrote down their estimates. Then, next to those estimates, he made a list of their favorite songs.

When the lists were complete, he would reveal the actual number of beans in the jar. The whole class would look over their guesses to see which estimate was closest to being right. He then turned to the list of favorite songs. “And which one of these is closest to being right?” he would ask.

Obviously, there is no right answer because song preference is a matter of taste—not fact. The professor’s point was that when it comes to God, there are areas of truth and areas of preference. Truth would include doctrine such as the death and resurrection of Christ, and salvation by faith. Preference, on the other hand, involves things like worship style and what to wear to church.

It’s important that every Christian be able to identify these two areas—truth and preference—and not confuse one with the other. Choose your battles based on truth. Don’t allow preferences to divide the body of Christ. And always seek unity and reconciliation when disagreements arise!

Prayer Challenge

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern what is truth and what is preference in the Christian life.

Questions for thought

How have you seen relationship damaged between Christians because of the blurring of lines between truth and preference?

When an issue arises, how can Scripture help you know whether you’re dealing with truth or preference?