Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. Psalms 133:1-3
It was never God’s intention for His church to be divided into so many different denominations. God wants His church to be united with one spirit, one faith, one purpose and one mission. Nevertheless, God never forces His will upon His children, and mankind is in such bad spiritual condition, that the church today is greatly divided all over the world. One of Satan’s biggest schemes is to cause division within the church.
Most Christians should look no further than their local church to see that there is division everywhere. People are at war within the local churches and fighting over things that God never intended them to fight over. They think they are helping God by taking a stand for what they believe is right, but in reality, they are being used by Satan to divide God’s church. When believers persecute God servants, scorn or put down what church leaders are trying to do, or talk bad about their spiritual brothers or sisters, they are persecuting Jesus Christ Himself and being used as an instrument for Satan to try and divide the church.
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: Acts 9:4-5
Saul of Tarsus was a Jewish Pharisee that consented to the death of Stephan. He was very zealous and was committed to trying to stop the spread of Christianity. He made it his mission to persecute the Christians of the early church as he hunted them down, arrested and brought them to trial for execution. However, all that changed after a tremendous salvation experience on the road to Damascus where he personally met Jesus Christ and Jesus said to him “why are you persecuting me”? Saul said “who art thou Lord?” Jesus responding back, “I am Jesus who thou persecutest.”
I don’t think most Christians realize this, but when you persecute a Christian, a member of God’s church, you are persecuting Jesus Christ Himself, because when a person gets saved, he automatically becomes a member of the church of Jesus Christ, a part of the body of Christ.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. I Corinthians 12:12
That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. I Corinthians 12:25-27
The Apostle Paul uses the metaphor that the body of Christ is one body, but has many members just like our bodies are one, but we have arms, legs, a head, ears, eyes and so on. We care about all the members of our bodies and we certainly wouldn’t want anyone to cut off even one of our little toes, for all our members are important to each of us. So is the body of Jesus Christ, every member, big or small, rich or poor, mature or immature, sanctified or carnal, equally are very important to God. To attack, persecute, scorn, or fight with another Christian is to, attack, persecute, scorn or fight with Jesus Christ Himself.
Many Christians think they are standing up for the truth, or fighting for God as they spew out their venom making their opinion known, thinking they are trying to help their church get better, when in reality they are dividing the church and grieving their Lord whom they think they are trying to help.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: Proverbs 18:21
People have no idea how powerful their words can be to bring life and encouragement to others or to bring death and discouragement. There is so much power in the tongue that our words can greatly affect other believers. A believer may love his church, but one person can come along and scorn and criticize his pastor and the leadership of the church and tell them all the things they think are wrong with the church, and this person suddenly loses respect for the pastor and starts to doubt whether his church, that he loved yesterday, is the church for him and his family going forward. All this from the words of one person that has no idea that Satan is using him/her, working through him/her to bring division in the church of Jesus Christ.
People are always fighting what I call Church Wars. Those who engage in such battles are usually not even aware of how demonic their actions are toward the Lord. The church experiences Worship Wars where people are fussing about the way the song service should go. Some people want to sing more hymns; some want more contemporary songs. Some want it louder, some want it quieter, some want to dance, some want to be still. So instead of focusing on worshipping Jesus, they get mad because the service is not going the way they think it should go. What amazes me is how many Christians think they are experts on how a worship service should be conducted when all any of us have is our past experiences and a finite limited understanding of an infinite God.
There are also Doctrinal Wars going on within the church today. This is perhaps the greatest reason there are so many different denominations and divisions within the church. All Christians should study their Bibles, pray and seek to understand God and His Word; learning great truths from our Bibles is how we form the basic tenets of our faith. There are some very important tenets of our faith like God is One God, but divides Himself into three persons, (the Father, the Son/Word and the Holy Spirit); this is a very important truth. Likewise, the virgin birth of Christ and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all are very important truths. There are many more truths that we simply cannot live without and should be willing to live and die for, if necessary. As people settle these issues in their life, they usually will find a church that they agree with. However, there are thousands of smaller truths that people within the same denomination will disagree and even fight over. This is very grievous to God because He wants His church to live in unity.
Then there are Ministerial Wars going on in most churches. These are fights over who gets certain positions within the church or who retains control over certain aspects of ministry in which they are in charge. I have seen people get vicious over someone else trying to tell them how to manage their ministry. This too amazes me since Jesus told us repeatedly that we are not here to be served, but we are here to serve. The disciples were constantly arguing over which one of them would be the greatest and who would sit at the right and left hand of Jesus as He ruled His kingdom. In the garden of Gethsemane, when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword and cut off a soldier’s ear. This happened just after the Passover meal where Jesus taught them to be servants.
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. John 13:3-5
Some churches believe this passage of scripture simply means that they are to literally wash each other’s feet in a church ceremony occasionally and while that is a great thing to do, that is all many get from this lesson. It is sad, but they miss the far greater meaning of this passage. Jesus is telling us so much more than just to have a ceremony. You should realize that these guys wore sandals and they walked on roads that were shared by animals. They had dirt, mud, and animal dung on their feet. The lowest position someone could hold in a rich man’s house was the position of washing the nasty feet of the guest. Here was the creator of the universe, taking the lowest position, as the lowest servant, while He washed the feet of His disciples. He was making a demonstration for them, trying to teach them that He was a servant, and if they were to follow Him, they too would have to be servants. Jesus repeatedly said that the least would be the greatest. If only Christians today would learn this principle, it would change everything about our churches. Instead of fighting each other, we would be loving, caring for and serving each other. We would never take glory or credit, and certainly we would not become angry when we don’t feel in control of our certain ministry. This is not our ministry, but it is the ministry of Jesus Christ. We should solve our differences with a towel and not a sword.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:21
Jesus’s final prayer before He went to Gethsemane was that they may be one as Jesus and His Father were one. This meant one in purpose, one in their faith, one spirit, one mission and one in character or nature. In fact, the Apostle Paul had much to say about how it is God’s highest will for the church to experience continually unity.
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: Ephesians 4:13
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:1-5
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. I Corinthians 1:10
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? I Corinthians 3:1-3
It is a sad state of affairs that so many Christians think they are mature because of the number of years they have spent in church. We should note that the children of Israel wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years, never maturing, always complaining, criticizing and murmuring against Moses and in actuality murmuring against God. If a believer is engaged in any of these Church Wars where they are causing division, they are not as mature as they have been led to believe, because where envy, strife and division are active in a church, it is a sure sign of immature Christianity.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. Acts 2:1
The hundred-and-twenty in the upper room had unity as the Bible states they were all with one accord. I’m sure this did not come easy, because the disciples had spent their entire time together arguing and being full of strife. Apparently, they worked out their differences and achieved unity, then on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came and baptized them in His love. They were never the same again as they became bold witnesses demonstrating God’s love to the world. We want revival in our churches but are not willing to work toward unity. Revival will never happen without unity. Some think that revival comes first, then unity, but it works the opposite way, because we must achieve unity before revival can come.
Most Christians have no idea how offensive it is to God when they are guilty of bringing division in the church. In Proverbs 6, the Bible list seven things that the LORD hates.
These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:16-19
God clearly states that He hates discord and division among brethren as much as He hates murder. What a strong comparison and one that we should take note of. Satan’s number one scheme is to divide the church and create disunity. It’s sad that many Christians allow Satan to influence them to create confusion, discord and division within the church and most have no idea that the father of all lies is behind this, influencing their words and actions. Christians that criticize, scorn, complain and gripe about their church and its leaders are killing the very thing they profess to love. They say that they love Jesus, and they love their church, but they persecute the one they love by attacking another member of His body. The church should be a refuge for hurting people, a place filled with the love, peace, and joy of God. It should be a place void of arguing, hate, scorn and unforgiveness.
Part of the problem is that most people are not very skilled in how to resolve conflict. The main two methods most Christians use to resolve conflict is either fighting or fleeing and if I made a scale of different ways to resolve conflict, fighting and fleeing would be at the bottom of the scale as the worst two ways in which to achieve conflict resolution.
Fighting it out is probably how the cave men did it. Let’s grab some sticks and stones and go get big Bubba and let’s just fight it out. This is how marriages are ruined, lives are destroyed and churches split. The other tactic people take is just to avoid the conflict. They will completely avoid the person that has offended them. The problem never goes away by avoiding it, quite the contrary, it simply grows and worsens. The Bible tells us to go to our brother if he has offended us and seek to be reconciled.
Granted, it takes both parties to agree to be reconciled and you will never get unity with someone that is controlled by the demonic spirit of Satan unless they get delivered. However, we Christians need to do our part by humbly apologizing if we have offended someone and then forgive every one for all offenses against us. When a Christian stops forgiving others, the love of God stops flowing through that person. If fact, the Bible says that if we want to continue to receive forgiveness from God, then we must continually forgive everyone that offend us.
To be reconciled with a brother begins with forgiveness. Once you have forgiven them, go to the person with whom the offense has taken place. You need to love the person regardless if they love you or not. Then, using a big tool toward reconciliation, seek first to listen and understand where they are coming from before speaking and seeking to be understood. Much conflict can be resolved if you can understand what their position is and why they hold such a position. The key here is to value the relationship more than the issue. With most Christians, we can learn to disagree on issues agreeably and whether we agree with them on every point or not, we can still love and fellowship them. Republicans and Democrats should be able to worship together. We don’t have to agree with everyone about everything to experience Christian unity.
We should humble ourselves by thinking of our brothers and sisters in the Lord and their needs over and above our own needs. We should try to live in harmony with them more than trying to prove our point that we are right and they are wrong. We should value unity more than we value trying to experience a perfect worship service. We should value unity more than we value trying to have a perfect ministry. We should value unity more than we value controlling our ministry. We should value unity more than we value thinking we know everything about God 100% accurately and all others know less and are wrong. We should value unity more than we value trying to have a perfect church, and by the way, our church will never be perfect, because you and I are a part of it.
For far too long, I have valued taking a stand for the truth more than I valued unity within the church. Yes, we are to take a strong stand for the truth, but we are to do this with the love of Jesus Christ. We should seek a proper balance between our stand for the truth and keeping the unity of the faith. We are to walk in love for everyone and we are to walk in unity with our brothers and sisters that are as much a part of the Body of Jesus Christ as we are. To say that we love God but are engaged in Church Wars, Worship Wars, Ministerial Wars or Doctrinal Wars is spiritual schizophrenia. It is a contradictory way of life and shows a heart that conflicts with God. We should be more concerned about loving our brothers and sisters than about being right about issues. If we are going to fight for something, then let’s fight for the unity of the Spirit, the unity of our Faith, and the unity of our church. Unity of the brethren is something far more important to God than I had ever previously imagined.
We should solve our differences with a towel and not a sword.
The key here is to value the relationship more than the issue.