Continuing in his discussion of how Christians are to respond when they disagree, in this next section of Francis Schaeffer’s book, The Mark of the Christian, Schaeffer helps us to understand proper “regret.”
Specifically, as follow up to the topic of disagreement deal with in the last section of the book, Schaeffer addresses the question: “How can we exhibit the oneness Christ commands without sharing in the other man's mistakes?” (p. 26)
First, we should never approach such disagreement without regret and true sorrow, there must honest regret and humility that it has come to this point of disagreement. Schaeffer makes this point quite vividly: “The world must observe that, when we must differ with each other as true Christians, we do it not because we love the smell of blood, the smell of the arena, the smell of the bullfight, but because we must for God's sake” (p. 27).
Second, there should be a proportionate display of love equal to (if not more than) the importance and degree of the disagreement (p.28). The word he uses is that this love should be “seeable,” reminding us again of the apologetic nature and message of this text.
Unfortunately, the reverse is too often more true; when we have minor disagreements, it is easy for us to show love, but the test comes with, and is most important—because this is when the unbelieving will be most observant—when there are major rifts. This is when we should be most careful to display “seeable” love to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Key statements from this section (p. 26-28):
There is only one kind of man who can fight the Lord's battles in anywhere near the proper way, and that is the man who by nature is unbelligerent.
If it is only a minor difference, showing love does not take much conscious consideration. But where the difference becomes really important, it becomes proportionately more important to speak for God's holiness. And it becomes increasingly important in that place to show the world that we still love each other.
As the differences among true Christians get greater, we must consciously love and show a love which has some manifestation the world may see.
You can read the online edition of the entire book here >>
3 John 8