The Answer To Church Divisions
A friend of mine asked for prayer last night. Their church just fired the senior pastor and it has created turmoil in the body. I know the pain, confusion, anger, name calling, accusations, and bitterness caused when a church struggles with leadership and seeks the remedy through fracture instead of mending. We too often take the world's philosophy and treat pastors as employees who are expendable if they are not producing in the prescribed manner.
Of course church counsels, deacons, or elders have expectations that they are required to enforce. Sometimes it is the pastor's fault, unyielding use of power or lax in the obligation of his duties. Sometimes it is hurt feelings, an offended conscience, contrary personalities, or down right sinful behavior that causes divisions. But Paul's warning to the Galatians is apropos,
But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
There is a High Calling for unity in the body that is required of believers. The unity isn't around job descriptions, power plays, worship styles, outreach strategies, or even pet doctrines. Our calling to Unity is around the one faith, the one hope, the one Lord and savior. Why is it so difficult for us to achieve this high calling?
The answer is simple, we are sinners. We forget that sometimes. We start to see ourselves as the keepers of the keys to the kingdom, protector of the truth, or even rescuer of God's character. But Paul said that even if these things are true but do not have love we are shouting in the wind, loud noises without substance. We are willing to stand alone if it means protecting what we believe to be the most important truths, and a unity of one is all we will have.
There is hope. Paul said that grace has been given to each of us according to the Grace of Jesus. We have received unmerited favor. The unlovely has been loved. We, who were far away, have been brought near. Unity is achieved when we remember from where we have come. Unity is achieved when we humble ourselves and in gentleness lift others up. We cannot do this on our own, we need grace, and we have been given it beyond measure.
Once grace is received and remembered, then we can extend it to others. We understand that they are fallen individuals just like us. We love the people with whom conflict reigns, speak truth to them, have patience, exhibit kindness, repent, offer forgiveness, seek reconciliation, and grant mercy and grace. This takes hard work.
The only way that we can achieve the unity of the Spirit in a climate of self absorbed, self righteous, individualism is to act in the opposite way. We need to become meditative (on the things of God), we need to become self aware (of our own sin and need of forgiveness), we need to set aside our own preconceived ideas of how things should be, and then join together in prayer with those with whom we have conflict.
Conflict and division will remain until the coming of Jesus because there will be people who will be unyielding and deniers of the truth. But that doesn't mean we should not fight for the High Calling of unity in Christ. I mean, we have recieved the abundant grace of Christ Jesus to achieve it. I'm just saying...
Eph. 4:7 "But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift."