Paul writes in Romans 12:16, “Live in harmony with one another.” Harmony is not easy. Harmony is hard work. As the statement that we looked at last week from Ephesians 4:3 says, “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”
Some principles for producing harmony comes from a story in the early days of the church… the story of Peter and Cornelius from Acts 10:1-35. There probably was no greater difference that the early church had to manage than the difference between a Jew and a Gentile. That difference was enormous in just about every way, religiously and culturally. They typically refused to associate in any way with each other. In Acts 10 that changed, in a dramatic way, when God did major work in the heart of the main leader of the Church– Peter.
From this story come four principles for producing harmony:
#1: Look for common ground/common points of agreement
We are Christians and have common ground in the reality that Jesus is God-in-flesh, Savior of the world and Lord of our lives! That is what unites us!
#2: Make allowances for differences
Harmony is about you and I being ok with not having everything done my way or everyone agreeing with me.
(Romans 12:16, Ephesians 5:21, 1 Peter 5:5, Colossians 3:12)
#3: Treat those who are different than you with respect…rather than suspicion or judgment
- Romans 15:7 “Accept one another just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”
- Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another…”
- Romans 14:13 – Don’t judge one another.”
#4: Be willing to talk to the person who you have a difference with
We would be better if we were willing to do what Peter and Cornelius did: They agreed to meet. Peter went to Cornelius’ house. They sat down together over a meal and they talked.