Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.
2 Timothy 2:23-26 NLT
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:10 NIV
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
Psalm 133:1 NIV
Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird in the sky may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.
Ecclesiastes 10:20 NIV
The bible gives imagery that the church is like a family, army, and team. None of these function without unity. Unity in the church is something worth striving for because it is something the Devil is fighting against.
Satan is wanting to steal, kill, and destroy the work of God in our local church. The number one way this will happen is through division.
Below are major areas in which the church must be unified and the ways churches nowadays are divided.
5 major areas in which we must be unified as a church body:
1. Theological Unity
This means that the leaders and members of the church come in agreement on non-negotiable doctrine. When it comes to minor issues, we can agree to disagree. Lets never major on the minors and minor on the majors. We must always keep the main thing the main thing.
2. Relational Unity
We must have relational unity where people and leaders in the church love one another and demonstrate it by being cordial, respectful, friendly, and kind in their interpersonal interactions. Especially in areas where they differ.
3. Philosophical Unity
Our philosophy on how the church should function according to the word of God must be the same. If one believes everyone should wear robes and the other thinks that their should always be an electric guitar, we have problems. While small things might be on opinion, the church must have common agreement on larger things such as: baptism, communion, evangelism, and discipleship.
4. Missional Unity
We must be in agreement to the mission God has called our local church body to fulfill.
5. Organizational Unity
There must be organizational unity on how things are done in the church. This is accomplished by job descriptions, clear vision, assessments, and policies being made.
7 ways churches are divided:
1. Heretics divide churches.
A heretic is a person holding an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted. There are real heretics in our churches. Remember there was a Judas with Jesus. We as a believers will always have people who do not agree with our faith and or practices. The problem is we have people in the church who fight every word or accusation against them and end up getting themselves into sin. On the other side, we have people who won’t fight at all. We must find a balance and listen to the direction and wisdom of the Holy Spirit on when to fight and when to let go.
2. Pride divides churches.
Pride is an ugly sin that we are all guilty of to varying degrees. Proud people act like leaders whether they are or not. They think God prefers to communicate to His people through them. Proud people only think about themselves and their family choosing not to be a part of the greater community of believers if it does not immediately benefit them. They love to tell others what to do, but when confronted for their own sin and pride, they welcome correction as warmly as a cat does water.
Proud people use emotion and manipulation to keep the attention away from their own sin, and on that of others. Pride invariably leads to division. The only way that a church can get on and stay on Jesus’ mission is to practice Jesus’ humility.
3. Legalism Divides churches.
Legalists, in simple terms, act like God by making rules. Legalists love to make rules about the rules. Legalists love to interpret how the rules are interpreted. When it comes to grace and truth, they will always err on the side of truth. Life is sucked out of churches run by legalists.
4. Traditionalism Divides churches.
Jesus had some pretty mean things to say to those who loved their man-made traditions. I define tradition as anything done in a church three times in a row. Traditionalists will fall in love with a wall color, a program, or a pastor, and have fallen out of love with Jesus. We must always allow Jesus to be Lord over our traditions.
5. Mission-Loss divides churches.
Churches that are not actively involved in the Missio Dei, will always become weird because we were never designed to exist away from the great commission. People that are working in the field do not care about the color of the barn. In other words, people that are not missional will find themselves having issues with things that are not important. Those issues can turn into division.
We must strive to be team players and fight against division at all costs. We are not ignorant of the devils attacks. We must humbly see the divisiveness in ourselves and be willing to turn away from those traps.
Questions to Ponder:
- What characteristics in you did you find in this session?
- Have you seen churches split before? Have you seen teams divided? What happened? What was the cause?