We believe in the unity of the Church.
Anyone who has been around very long can attest there are wide variations of ministries, personalities, tastes, and abilities within the Kingdom of God. It should be obvious to all that in any dispute, all the good and sincere people do not end up on a single side of the conflict. We are fallen creatures and never understand perfectly what the Spirit is saying to the Church. We may feel that we have received some new direction from God only to discover that another brother or sister disagrees. It can be confusing when these things happen.
When it does, we try our best to not pass judgment hastily. Even when we do not understand the doctrine or practice of some believers, we must take our time and seek reconciliation. Furthermore, we can claim those who disagree with us as a part of the Lord’s family, even if the disagreement is serious enough that we find it easier to work in separate communities. This happened once in the Bible to the Apostle Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15), so we should not be surprised if it happens to us.
It does hurt us when we experience the rejection of a fellow Christian or a group of Christians. Sometimes though, we have no control over such situations and can only manage our reactions to it. Once we understand the importance of unity in the Church, we are obligated to treat all believers with respect and love, even those who do not reciprocate.
There are a number of reasons why believers might reject other Christians. Perhaps they have been taught that all true Christians will solely belong to their group. They also may feel that true Christians will believe some doctrine they believe important, in which case those who do not believe that doctrine appear to them as at least deficient, or even as counterfeit Christians.
This article says that such judgments must be left to God. Only God knows who belongs to Him. Therefore, we should err on the side of liberality on this issue for we dare not exclude people who may be, in fact, our Father’s children.
Many years ago in Western Canada, a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses became convinced that their view of Jesus was deficient. They began moving toward orthodox Christianity as a result. Nonetheless, for several years they did not break with their sect. They did not know the hymns, language, and literature of the broader Christian world, and their families and old friends were within the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They did finally make the break after many agonizing years but found it equally difficult to enter into the life of orthodox Christianity.
Had we met these people as Jehovah’s Witnesses instead of the followers of Christ they had become, we might have rejected them and thought of them as heretics. Our limited judgment would have prohibited us from offering them Christian fellowship, even though they had, in fact, been born again.
To all such believers—hidden from us because of our unwillful ignorance—we seek to reach through the fog of human error and distrust and affirm that they too are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Some may consider this statement too broad and open. We accept that and try to understand when people decide not to walk with us as a result. Christ Church wants to build bridges rather than walls. While not being afraid of taking a stand when a stand is required, we do not take it lightly when such a stand may separate us from others who are also believers in Christ. While we may not be able to work in close harmony with all of God’s children, we acknowledge the reason to be human weakness and not Christian virtue.