“Now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1Corinthians 13:12b
I’ve seen a great evil in the body of Christ that has plagued the church throughout the ages. Those who know in part often presume they know fully and so divide themselves from other Christians who don’t see things exactly their way.
Jesus prayed in John 17:17 that we would be sanctified (set apart) by the truth and then defined truth for us: “Your word is truth.” The word of God was given to set us apart from the corrupt value system, perspective, and ungodliness of this present age, so that we would reflect God and His ways in the darkness of this world.
Christians have taken the word that was given to separate or divide us from the world’s system, and instead used it to divide the body of Christ. In the very chapter that Jesus prayed we would be sanctified, He also prays that the Father would make us one. The result of this oneness, He said, would be that the world would believe in Jesus.
Instead of accepting each other, the body of Christ is often found rejecting each other on things that aren’t essential to the gospel. Pride makes us “strain at gnats and swallow camels.” (Matthew 23:24) There are essential truths that unite us and divide us from the world and these need to be embraced with a passion we are willing to die for: the authority of Scripture; Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world; the gospel calls all people to repent and put their trust in Christ for salvation; Christians are called to love God and love people; everyone will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and go irreversibly to heaven or hell. Even these clear truths in the word of God are only known in part, yet Christians through all the ages have established these as essentials that define one as a Christian.
Matters like communion, baptism, how the second coming will unfold, how predestination is defined, spiritual gifts, the age of the earth, etc. are all examples of issues that sincere believers disagree as to how the Bible should be interpreted. You probably have an opinion on every one of these topics and you more than likely think you’re right. (If you didn’t it wouldn’t be your opinion) Yet, we need to hold these opinions with humility or our attitude can end up bringing division to the church instead of the unity that Jesus prayed for.