In another episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, the kids are playing house at preschool when Prince Wednesday storms in roaring. He wants to pretend to be a dinosaur, but the others are worried his roaring will wake the pretend baby. Katarina doesn’t want Wednesday to play with them at all, but Teacher Harriet encourages them to find a way to play together. Prince Wednesday decides to be a quiet dinosaur, and all is right with the world in the Land of Make Believe.
Solutions may not be so easy in the real world, but I sometimes worry that we Christians are too quick to throw up walls when disagreements arise. Whether they are differences over the correct distribution of the Lord’s Supper, times of worship, the number of times we gather on Sundays, which benevolent opportunities to pursue, or even secular issues like politics – we often find it easier to disfellowship than work things out together or simply drop or concede a point of contention. Instead of finding a way to play together, we’re guilty of gathering up our toys and going someplace else. The result is congregations that shrink and swell based largely on whoever is refusing to worship with whom at any given time.
Jesus’ apostles were a diverse group, and they were prone to disagreements. When these arose, however, Jesus did not separate them into different groups. He didn’t cater to the arguments. Instead, He refocused their minds away from their contentions and onto things above. Even when Paul and Barnabas separate ways over a disagreement regarding John Mark, they all eventually end up reunited as a Christian family. Disagreements arise. Some are more legitimate than others, but we cannot view each other as disposable in these times. You are vital to my salvation, and I hope you see me as vital to yours.
You and I may have a lot of differences. We may have different opinions about the age of our world, about environmentalism and humane treatment of animals, on gun control, on immigration, on taxation, on head coverings, on hymns versus praise songs, on any number of things – but those differences cannot and must not define our relationship in Christ. If we’re going to get to Heaven together, then we have to find a way to set our differences aside and get along in this world. We have to find a way to play together.