From the outside looking in, it must sometimes look as if Christians are a contentious bunch. It would seem unlikely that non-believers would understand the differences we espouse in the finer points of theological understanding or doctrinal application. This isn’t to say that disagreements aren’t sometimes right, and necessary. After all, Christians’ first loyalty must be to God and His Word. If fellow believers are offering opinions or teachings that are contrary to Biblical truths then we must contend with these things. But dealing with issues is much different than delighting in them. In other words, it can be tempting to enjoy the debate so much that we forget about our witness to a watching world.
Romans 14:19 gives us a manner in which to measure our interactions with other believers. It tells us to “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” In other words, what we pursue, what we should focus on isn’t only what makes for peace (i.e. what we can agree on) or only that which puffs up our own opinions and knowledge, but instead, we should pursue both of these things. We can’t just focus on what’s made for peace – if that means compromising on what would be beneficial for each other’s
growth. At the same time, our goal with those who are brothers and sisters in Christ should be peace. After all, if we are united in Him,
why should we be warring against our own?
This makes for a fine line which we must walk. The goal isn’t peace at all costs. If something needs to be said to build each other up – we should do so (directly and to that person only, as Matthew 18 commands.) But we also much consider whether we should be compromising peace for something that is not crucial to our brothers’ and sisters’ growth. If it’s for building up our own reputation or storehouse of knowledge, and not of the mutual upbuilding of the Church, we would be wise to reconsider whether its worth the abdication of peace.