Sean I appreciate your thoughtful response! I am sure it would be interesting to consider every part of these levels you’ve illustrated.
If you were one of the ones it was spoken of where Jesus had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, where would you go in our day? What if you chose ‘the wrong place’ but sensed a spirit of godliness and friendship and ended up staying to love and serve with the people there and wound up being there for twenty years, content in your love for God?
Secondarily, if many people in our own specific church do not have a lived faith, in terms of daily taking up the cross-yet we have fellowship with them-on what basis do we exclude fellowship with others? Is claiming beliefs enough, how can we hope to truly know the people around us and assure they are worth our investment?
Is the church a hospital or a think tank? How do we offer a redemptive message to some and also a tempering, sanctifying message to others?
What is the church? Who are the church? Do denominations as a whole become saved? or is it individuals who stand before God? And again I ask, ‘who are the church?’
If we wanted to seriously cover the question from start to finish the above questions would have to be answered. Conventionally we see churches as places where imperfect people with imperfect understanding come together. Is there a way to find unity with people who love Jesus but have a misunderstanding of the message as we see it? I chose liberal and conservative because I think it is a standard differentiator. We could choose many others, when I think of the church in Acts I think of people coming together citywide, not according to their favorite flavor of Christianity. So my question is more related to have you seen people of goodwill second, and sincere love of God and Christ first, come together in unity? (With true love for Christ how could it fail?)
I wouldn’t say fellowship, in terms of meeting together for mutual encouragement is condoning every point of theology but rather considering the other group as an eye, arm or leg, and acknowledging their work in the body. If they don’t love Jesus, what is the point?
We can’t justify every person in a congregation, can we? Can we also allow for sincere lovers of Christ to be within congregations that are imperfect?
I’d like to know about places in the country where people have set aside the biggest discrepancies and sought unity while keeping their strongly held doctrines. I’d like to hear stories of the good and bad that might have come from such and effort.