Often when looking at the negative repercussions of the Protestant Reformation, we point to the disunity, division, and church splits it caused. The sadder reality though is that the Reformation caused so much hatred and violence between fellow Christ-followers.
On the night He would be betrayed (after the betrayer had left the room) Jesus said to His remaining friends, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:31-35)
This is the right and good mission of the Church: that others would know we are Christ-followers by our love, one for another.
Jesus does not care so much about disagreements we have with one another about church teachings. Instead, He is more concerned that we who claim to follow Him demonstrate our love for one another.
When Martin Luther sought to reform the church in his day, the church rebuffed him and tried to silence him. When we consider the words of Christ, we see that the main issue was that the church did not allow space for conversation. Perhaps the reform needed most was not so much a correction of church teaching, but opportunity for disagreement and dialogue.
Now, even with all the splits and denominations that exist today, we still find that churches often shut-down and silence dissent viciously, all in the name of Christ. If we really followed Christ however, we would circle back to His new commandment when disagreements occur, and we would instead love one another with even more fervor.
Jesus said “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” We know that Jesus laid down His pride as the Son of God and even gave up His life for us. So then, if we are to love as He loved, then we must lay down our pride and display our love for one another in the Church, whether we are united or divided.