Whenever thoughtful people get together and pool their ideas, they start disagreeing.  Fine.  We’re all better off.  Or, I hope we are.  Thing is, we have to bring even our disagreements under the judgment of the gospel.  It’s not as though the mere expression of opinions is itself sacrosanct.  Nothing about us is sacrosanct, except Christ in us.

Why does God bring us together in Christian associations — churches, denominations, networks, coalitions, friendships?  What are we welcoming one another into?  Certainly, “not to quarrel over opinions” (Romans 14:1).  I do not believe we Christians are on the planet to form a debate club.  Yes, even the early church, with revelation an immediate experience, entered together into “much discussion” (Acts 15:7).  But gospel discussion is not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.  Gospel discussion is for the purpose of pressing into clearer agreement on matters “of first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3).  Or, if that is unachievable, at least more charitable and regretful disagreement.  But mere debate on secondary and tertiary matters — well, I don’t think that’s what Jesus died and rose again to give us.

I am not saying this to embarrass any commenter who disagrees with me.  Not at all.  I just want to explain my purpose in blogging in the first place.  My purpose is not to disagree with anyone, certainly not to “fix” anyone.  I blog in order to rejoice in God.  Anything I might ever say on secondary and tertiary matters comes out of my own rejoicing in him, as I understand him.  I am not making a statement about you or how I think you should feel.  I am making statements about him and how I feel about him.  If you disagree with what I am saying, you may well be right.  And maybe not.  But I do know why God has brought us all together in our many settings: “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).  To welcome, to receive, to embrace, to rejoice, as we make room for one another on secondary and tertiary matters.

It is a privilege to blog for the glory of God, especially here at The Gospel Coalition.  Thank you for visiting my blog.  Welcome!

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12 thoughts on “Why God brought us together”

  1. Awesome. So glad you are part of A29.

  2. John says:

    Amen and Amen! May grace abound as we all wrestle with understanding the truth and as we wrestle with bringing our lives into conformity with its implications.

  3. Steve says:

    Ray, Thanks so much for your blog – I have been blessed many, many times by what you have posted. I love the Christ exalting, gospel focus and grace centered nature of your posts!
    I have wrestled over this subject, especially when the disagreement is over what areas are primary, versus secondary or tertiary. How do you handle such situations?

    Thanks and blessings.

  4. Bernard says:

    Thanks for this Ray. It helps me see that comments I posted some months ago were not made in the right spirit. Sincere apologies.

    1. Ray Ortlund says:

      Thanks, Bernard. I have no memory of this. But I certainly accept your apology. Way to go.

  5. Rob says:

    I like your blog.

  6. Shaan says:

    Uncle Ray… love you so much… and your blog is very edifying and thought provoking! You have been a tremendous blessing and encouragement to me… Thanks Shaan

    1. Ray Ortlund says:

      Thanks, Shaan. Let’s go hunt elk together.

  7. Tara McIlrath says:

    Just checking in after a long while and it is no surprised that I am encouraged. I do want to say that I was REALLY encouraged by the ‘common grace’ post from a few days ago. I teach an exercise class that some call yoga. I teach it at my church, and they have asked me that I not title my class Holy Yoga and so it is called just the Tuesday morning exercsie class. Someone familiar with yoga came to me and basically said that there is no way one can be a Christian and practice yoga. I listened politely to all she had to say and then went into my ‘midnight prayer closet’ and sincerely asked God about this. I would stop exercising if it meant that it was against Him. I only want to be in the center of His will and I certainly do not want to lead others astray. I play all Christian music (mostly songs from K-LOVE and WOW worship CDs). I start the class with scripture and bring it up throughout for the purpose of meditating on it. When I read that God REDEEMS music, literature, etc unto His righteousness, that reassured me that this exercise class is praising HIM and leading others to Praise the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through Christ Jesus! So I am continuing to teach and the church pastors and elders have given me their blessing, too. I just hope that lady comes back to talk to me again and I will point her in the direction of your blog. Christ the Redeemer!

  8. Kim says:

    Can’t begin to tell you how blessed I have been by reading your blog. Time after time in my fight for joy your posts encourage me to press on! Than you and God bless you!

    Kim

    1. Ray Ortlund says:

      Thanks, Kim. God be with you.

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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