Encouragement in the faith and encouragement generally cannot be built on statements we doubt. Differences of practice need not be reason for doubt between believers. We are as a universal Body of Christ aware of the great diversity of belief and practice among Christians. However, I am convinced there is only one faith in Jesus. There are, in contrast, various levels of maturity. The encouragement we might rightly offer others of different practice is to seek the Father. I do not expect anyone’s walk to look like mine in practice, yet I believe there is mutual understanding of what faith is and how it is lived, if we would humbly accept it lives beyond our man-made boundaries of religious practice.
Believers need to feel free to question anything in their own tradition when that is their need. Questioning practice of the group is not questioning the existence or authenticity of the Lord. Open discussion and mutual reflection is a benefit to us all.
We must trust in the mercy of our Father, and such trust is the basis of an authentic encouragement. I think there is no such thing as human objectivity, not in a pure sense anyway. Each of us is primarily subjective in all things. In my view, it is only as one opens to the in-dwelling Spirit of Christ that we partake of the Mind of Christ and touch truth. It is from a clear view of truth that we become strong in the ability to encourage others.
Encouragement is a key factor in one’s development as a Christian. We must beware, however, the voice calling to self-help for development as a better person. Becoming a better person is a siren’s call crashing one’s hope on rocks of discouragement. The old nature cannot be fixed. (And we all have the old nature.) For all us Christians, we must learn how to exist as our new creature through the depths of faith. It doesn’t happen by flipping switches. Rather, when people who share a significant past encourage one another, the established trust together on Christ opens individuals to the growth our heavenly Father guides.
This begs the question of whether or not Christians of varied backgrounds may develop a significant past. I say, love has no boundaries. Therein lies the true nature of encouragement. It meets its intended use from God when we are encouraging one another from a position of trusted love toward a deepening of the love which is from God. In contrast, encouraging one another to a better, more sophisticated humanity is nothing but empty humanism, the great lie of Lucifer to lift himself to be God’s equal.
Do you practice your faith in a different manner than I? No matter, love between us and for God together will flourish if we but seek to lift each other up into the light of Jesus.