Now I'm not advocating that we abandon sound, Biblical doctrine nor the "faith once delivered to the saints." What I AM advocating is an Christlike attitude of love towards fellow believers---and the requisite actions which go with love. I genuinely believe that if we allow God to love others through us, we'll see Christians revived in their faith!
Let me illustrate what I mean. On November 4, 1740, Augustus Montague Toplady was born in Farnham, England. He began writing hymns at 14, and was ordained as an Anglican priest at 22. His theology was staunchly Calvinist, and the hymns he wrote were beautiful and uplifting.
Toplady despised John Wesley's Arminian theology, accusing him of "lying and forgery" and saying that Wesley was "the most rancorous hater of the gospel system that ever appeared on this island." He also wrote that Wesley was "guilty of satanic shamelessness."
In 1776, Toplady wrote an article on God's forgiveness ending with a poem he had written:
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
This poem, which became the hymn, Rock of Ages, was once described as the "best known, best loved, and most widely used" hymn in the English language. Most American Protestants know this hymn.
Curiously, over 30 years earlier, John Wesley had written a hymn along the same theme. His hymn read:
"O Rock of Salvation, Rock struck and cleft for me,
Let those two Streams of Blood and Water which gushed from Thy side,
Bring down Pardon and Holiness into my soul."
In spite of all the animosity and hard words by Toplady, it appears that both men genuinely loved the Lord Jesus and wanted to serve Him. Theological differences? Of course! These were---and are today----apparent. However, rather than accept those differences in a spirit of Christlike love, another attitude was shown. Only the Lord Himself knows the hurts and hurdles for the Gospel created by hateful words.
This week we all have the opportunity to live with a different kind of attitude. Love is not only an emotion.....it is a choice! We can choose to obey the words of Jesus Himself as we live. I trust you and I will do so!
"Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in Him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whosoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble."
1 John 2:7-10