A Christian Response to a Doctrinal Difference

This morning I read in my Bible the following passage. I was struck by how two godly Christians acted and reacted to one brother’s doctrinal difference.

And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. Acts 18.24-26

I understand there are different levels of understanding of Christian orthodoxy and therefore different levels of either acceptance or outright rejection of those Christian teachings. But what is modeled above is often times not my mode of operation. I tend to act or at least think suspiciously of fellow believers who act or believe different than me (which I’ve noticed is just about everyone – I tend to agree with me).

Here are some simple observations that I took from my reading this passage this morning:

  1. Listen first, understand second, ask questions third, instruct (if necessary) last.
    Aquilla and Priscilla’s first reaction was to listen. They had to listen to what Apollos was saying before they could understand. Too often I “know” what a person thinks, believes and will say before they’ve even completed a full paragraph.
  2. Humility, humility, humility.
    (a) Luke, the author of Acts, gave Apollos credit. Apollos was a man who was competent in his understanding of the Bible or “instructed in the way of the Lord.”  (b) Aquilla and Priscilla listened. (c) Apollos was humble enough to accept not only their criticism, but also their instruction. Wow!
  3. Restoration and Relationship.
    Some may think this is soft, but Aquilla and Priscilla’s point seems to be to restore a brother’s understanding of the Bible and grow their Christian relationship with him not prove that they were more holy or more righteous. There are times when we must contend, Jude states this plainly. But it seems I tend to fight a little too much rather than graciously agreeing to disagree. I forget the real enemy is not a Christian brother, but the Evil One.
It seems as if the Bible is attempting to teach us that our first, second and thirds responses are different than what tends to be our first response.

2 Responses

  1. The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing and who really is at the core of contentions-the devil.

  2. That’s good. Thanks for weighing in, Domingo.

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