Drawing Circles and Drawing Lines
In the 2015 animated movie The Good Dinosaur, two characters who don't share a common language are trying to communicate the idea of "family." The way they finally got the idea across was to draw a circle around a picture of everyone in their family. I like that imagery - a circle to show we belong together. A circle to show we are set apart, to show that something connects us to each other in a way we are not connected to anyone else.
The church is a place for drawing circles. We speak of our "church family" and of our "brothers and sisters in Christ," because Scripture teaches us to think that way about our relationships with other Christians. We look to the same heavenly Father, who has adopted us as his children. We are a family, and there is a big circle around us.
But we are naturally inclined to draw lines. We have our convictions, our ideas, our opinions, and we easily draw lines that distinguish us from people who don't agree with us (and who are, of course, wrong). We want lines to separate the more orthodox, the more correct, the more holy, and the more faithful of us from those who don't measure up. We draw lines to feel secure, to feel right.
In his letter to Titus, Paul cautions against "divisive people" (3:10) and instructs Titus to give them several warnings before cutting them off. Why warnings? Because we all draw lines, and even if they are about the right things, they are often for the wrong reasons. And if we respond to a warning, we can learn to look past the lines we draw and instead look to the circle, the only line that matters. But if we keep trying to cut up the circle, then we show that we are "warped and sinful...self-condemned" (3:11).
Will we always agree with each other in our church? No. Will we always agree with people in the church across the street, across town, or across the globe? Certainly not. But we draw our circle big, encompassing all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And as we look around at everyone in the circle, we will see differences and even disagreements. But, so long as it depends on us, let us not see division.