Common Ground
by Yevgeni Stanukevich, Shavei Tzion Messianic Center, Tents of Mercy Network

We are now in the season of autumn's biblical High Holy Day festivals. These days are full of joy and celebration ... but they also lead us to times of soul searching and repentance.

We find atonement in Yeshua the Messiah, and He is the treasure of our life together. At the same time we are commanded to repent for our sins, to examine ourselves, turn toward Him, and then to walk the next stretch of our lives in a better way.

Now I want to apply this corporately. Many times there are differences of opinion in the body of Messiah concerning theological teaching and related issues, what to do or not to do and what is relevant. These arguments often tear us apart and waste valuable time that could be spent in bringing forth fruit together as one body in the Lord Yeshua.

God looks at mankind both individually and collectively. At Mount Sinai we see an interesting thing when reading in the original Hebrew. [In Hebrew there are several words for "you" - some plural and some singular.] God spoke to the gathered people of Israel, not in the plural as many ("you all"), but rather in the singular as one man.

"I am the Lord your (singular) God, who brought you (singular) out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You (singular) shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:1-3).

From this we draw two conclusions. Firstly, unity needs to be a unity of the people standing before God as one whole - even with all of our differences and variety. Secondly, at the same time, the individual, personal relationship between each one of us with our Father in heaven, is still unique. Each of us still has our different personalities and unique qualities. Everyone grows and transitions at his own pace, and we should not judge or argue about the way in which each one develops and moves forward. Rather we need to find common ground in the Lord who is the absolute truth, and to deepen our roots in Him. All the rest will be added in due time.

"Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same ..." (Philippians 3:15-16).

This scripture emphasizes that each of us follows his own path and that we are not to judge each other nor each other's congregations. In order to continue to walk we must be faithful where we are at any given moment. This is relevant in our stages of understanding and spiritual growth.

When we reach common ground, we put disagreements aside and focus on being effective together as one body "... avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless ..." (Titus 3:9-10). We produce good fruit abundantly and bring joy to the Lord Who sent us to do good deeds for all His creatures. At the same time we must not cease learning and growing and engaging in a healthy "conversation" accompanied with love.

As we celebrate the fall festivals, I want to encourage us all to stop being judgmental and to start becoming a people who are bearing good fruit for the kingdom of God together as one, as is expected of us.

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