I'm here at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco to demonstrate Accordance Bible Software to the teeming masses who will be crowding the Expo floor. MacWorld Expo is always like a shot in the arm, because it's the one place where you can unapologetically scoff at how ridiculous Windows is and find unanimous agreement about how "insanely great" the Mac is. It's the one place in the world where the fact that Accordance is only developed for the Mac is seen as a plus rather than a minus (we always see it that way). There's nothing like being surrounded by like-minded people to energize you and give you the encouragement you need to return to a world where your viewpoint is in the minority.
It's the same with other labels I wear. When I see someone else wearing Florida State Seminole regalia, I smile knowingly at them and occasionally say something like "How 'Bout Them 'Noles?" (And in case you're wondering, I've never been so proud of a loss as I was with the recent toe-to-toe exchange with Penn State.)
Yet somehow, this automatic sense of being on the same side never seems to come so easily with respect to the most important "fellowship" to which I belong: the Church. When I meet someone else who shares my faith in Christ, I'm sorry to say that I'm not always very quick to call him a brother. Instead, I usually am trying to figure out what kind of brother he is. What theological category does he fit into? To which ecclesiastical tradition does he belong? Is he a "weaker brother" who would disapprove of the movies I watch or the books I read to my kids? Is he a "libertine" who does not share my scruples about other non-essentials? Is he a "liberal" who understands Scripture differently than I do? Is he a "false brother" who belongs to a group which I regard as a "cult"?
I'm not saying that there aren't real differences between me and these other kinds of people who call themselves Christians. The authors of the New Testament do label some people as "false brothers" and encourage Christians to be wary of them and even to disassociate with them. However, contrary to my own sinful tendency to draw lines in the sand between myself and others, I think I need to be more willing to give the benefit of the doubt to all those who name the name of Christ. I should be willing to regard them as brothers before I view them with suspicion and try to discern whether or not their faith is genuine. I should give more weight to the fact that they name Christ at all than that they may differ from me slightly in the way they name Christ. If I can be like-minded with Mac geeks and Seminole fans who may be hostile to the Christian faith, shouldn't I be more like-minded with the Christians who may differ from me in less important respects?
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” (Phil. 2:1-2, NIV-G/K)