Is it necessary for all Christians to believe exactly the same way?
On the one hand, God says “no.” Some people are vegetarians, and, for them, this diet has to do with their relationship with God. Others can (and do) eat meat and vegetables and even chocolate! They think nothing of it (though some of us should). Who is more spiritual?
Some observe special religious days and celebrations as a matter of religious practice. Others do not. Who is more spiritual?
The Apostle Paul wrote regarding these specific things: “Stop passing judgment on one another!”1 Some things God simply has not addressed and we should simply admit it and move on and be charitable as we go.
On the other hand, God says “yes,” you should believe the same way on some things. The same Apostle wrote: “I appeal to you, brothers, . . . that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”2
When God has spoken specifically about a matter, we should pay attention and agree. Sometimes we may disagree about whether God has been specific. At other times, we may disagree about the manner in which we will implement God’s will. Sometimes it takes a good bit of thought, study, prayer, discussion, time – and even experience — to come to a proper conclusion and application. As we journey toward a conclusion we must remember that we are one family, God’s family. Regardless of our feelings and positions, nothing can change that. And at least one critical essential is that we must maintain that familial collegiality. It’s what God wants. It’s one reason Jesus died on the cross.3
Hard feelings, animosity, grudges, division, all between brethren, are forbidden by God. Of course, forbidding them doesn’t make them go away, but we have no right to harbor them nor nurture them. As God’s people, whatever we believe, we must make every effort to live in peace with one another.
(1) 1 Corinthians 14:13
(2) 1 Corinthians 1:10
(3) A passage often overlooked in the discussion of unity is Ephesians 2:14ff. Christ’s death on the cross was designed to bring people together, joining us to become a holy temple to the Lord, a temple in which God dwells through His Spirit. And we are commanded to maintain this unity in a bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).