About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Diversity Within Unity

  "...so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify God...". (Rom. 15:5)  This is just one verse that can be found where Paul encourages us to be unified in both heart and speech (or mouth). It is relatively easy to understand how we can be united in one heart.  When we become a Christian we receive the Holy Spirit.  At that time we become united with our brothers and sisters in the Lord, because they too have the same Holy Spirit.  Some people may say that being in one heart means having the same purpose, or the same vision.  There may be some truth in that, yet being of the same purpose is more of a secondary issue to being united by God's Spirit.

What does it mean to be united with one mouth, as Paul puts it here in Romans 15:5?  Is he asking us to always say the same thing?  Is he asking us to all think alike on every matter?  If we are to speak the same things, doesn't that mean we must all think alike first?  How can we speak the same thing when we don't think alike?  These are only logical questions that can be asked as a result of this verse, and others like it.

I don't think Paul is asking us to think alike.  In Romans 14:5 Paul gives us the freedom to think differently on "disputable matters". A matter of fact, he doesn't just give us the freedom to think differently, he also tells us to be "fully convinced" in what we think concerning   these "disputable matters".

We thus need to ask, "what are disputable matters".  We need to go back to Romans 14:1, where we see Paul telling us "not to pass judgment of disputable matters".  In Romans 14 he gives three examples of what disputable matters are.  They are, eating or not eating meat, drinking or not drinking wine, and holding one day over above another as being special.  I believe that these are just examples. I believe that the list could be extended.

To me, and this is my understanding, I believe "indisputable matters" are doctrines concerning what constitutes salvation, that is, doctrines that you have to believe in order to be saved.  Also "indisputable matters" are those things in Scripture that are very plain, and that cannot be interpreted.  Such things as, "don't  kill, don't steal, don't get drunk" and so on.  These are examples of things that are clear and plain.  It is hard to come up with various opinions on these issues.  Everything else is called "disputable matters".  

Paul is telling us not to pass judgment, divide, or split over "disputable matters".  We can hold our own opinion on these things.  Even more, we can each be "fully convinced" in what we believe in these "disputable matters".  

So how can we reconcile the idea of each of us being "fully convinced in disputable matters", yet all speaking the same thing.  I believe, as one who drinks wine, that I can be "fully convinced" that drinking wine is okay for me.  My brother can be "fully convinced" that drinking wine is wrong for him.  We can both verbally state our thinking.  After we both give our opinion, we can say that we choose to walk together in the Lord.  We can choose to speak words of unity, words that say, even though we think differently on "disputable matters", we think alike on the "indisputable matters".  We will say with one heart and one mouth that we will walk together and not pass judgment on things that we are "fully convinced" of in the area of "disputable matters".

To me, this makes perfect sense, yet the church over the years has not seen this.  We have split and divided over such things as end time prophecy, Sabbath days, and many other things.  We have split over "disputable matters", and therefore are not united on the important issues, the "indisputable matters".  As a result we are not glorifying God. We actually hurt our witness of Jesus to the world. This is not right.  Will we ever learn?      

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