Read 1 Corinthians 10:27-33
27-28 If a nonbeliever invites you to dinner and you feel like going, go ahead and enjoy yourself; eat everything placed before you. It would be both bad manners and bad spirituality to cross-examine your host on the ethical purity of each course as it is served. On the other hand, if he goes out of his way to tell you that this or that was sacrificed to god or goddess so-and-so, you should pass. Even though you may be indifferent as to where it came from, he isn’t, and you don’t want to send mixed messages to him about who you are worshiping.
29-30 But, except for these special cases, I’m not going to walk around on eggshells worrying about what small-minded people might say; I’m going to stride free and easy, knowing what our large-minded Master has already said. If I eat what is served to me, grateful to God for what is on the table, how can I worry about what someone will say? I thanked God for it and he blessed it!
31-33 So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you—you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them. As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory. At the same time, don’t be callous in your exercise of freedom, thoughtlessly stepping on the toes of those who aren’t as free as you are. I try my best to be considerate of everyone’s feelings in all these matters; I hope you will be, too. (THE MESSAGE)
Many years ago a young woman who was on the verge of joining a cult came to see me. She noted all the books in my study and asked if they all said the same thing and taught the same thing. In response I gave her a bit of my understanding of the diversity within the Christian faith. Those many books offered many different perspectives. Our faith is not a matter of everyone agreeing on absolutely everything.
For the young woman, that decided it. She went off to join the cult, saying she needed to belong to a group that told her what to believe. The thought of freedom to disagree or the concept of mystery and ambiguity was a horror to her. She wanted a detailed rule book to dictate her life and presumably an authoritarian figure to control her.
Christianity is not like that. We do see things differently. Opinions vary, churches are not all the same. In our reading today, we note that we are to be sensitive to others who see things differently, but even then not to reckon that we must agree with them.
Sadly, some Christian groups do veer into controlling tyranny. Tick all the boxes or be rejected. Do as we say or be regarded as unbiblical. But such attitudes are the mark of a cult not a faith. Our differences may be challenging, but they need not be a threat. They can be an opportunity to grow in understanding, an opportunity to show sensitive care, an invitation to value even more that which unites us all.