Few things are sapping the strength of the church of Jesus Christ more than the unreconciled state of so many believers. So many have matters deeply imbedded in their craws, like iron wedges forced between themselves and other Christians. They can’t walk together because they do not agree. When they should be marching side by side through this world taking men captive for Jesus Christ, they are acting instead like an army that has been routed and scattered and whose troops in their confusion have begun fighting among themselves. Nothing is sapping the church of Christ of her strength so much as these unresolved problems, these loose ends among believing Christians that have never been tied up. There is no excuse for this sad condition, for the Bible does not allow for loose ends. God wants no loose ends.
Sometimes when people leave the church it can be a good thing. Said another way, there are some people who advance the cause of peace and unity by their absence!
He that is not a son of Peace is not a son of God. All other sins destroy the Church consequentially; but Division and Separation demolish it directly.
The differences among Christians are nothing in comparison of the differences among heathens.
Few things are as dishonoring to the cause of Christ as Christians quarreling among themselves. Yet we expel people from our fellowship for adultery, while we tolerate discord between ourselves and other believers. We have failed to understand and obey the biblical imperative to “make every effort to do what leads to peace.”
Discord and division become no Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous.
When divisions are rife in religion, it is bound to happen that what is in men’s minds will soon erupt in real conflict. For while nothing is more effective for joining us together, and there is nothing which does more to unite our minds, and keep them peaceful, than agreement in religion, yet if disagreement has somehow arisen in connection with it, the inevitable result is that men are quickly stirred up to engage in fighting, and there is no other field with fiercer disputes
Those who disrupt form the body of Christ and split its unity into schisms are quite excluded from the hope of salvation, so long as they remain in dissidence of this kind.
Why is it that you harbor strife, bad temper, dissention, schism, and quarreling? Do we not have one God, one Christ, one Spirit of grace which was poured out on us?… Your schism has led many astray; it has made many despair; it has made many doubt; and it has distressed us all. Yet it goes on!… It is disgraceful, exceedingly disgraceful, and unworthy of your Christian upbringing, to have it reported that because of one or two individuals the solid and ancient Corinthian church is in revolt against its presbyters… The result is that the Lord’s name is being blasphemed because of your stupidity, and you are exposing yourselves to danger.
The biggest pain that a Christian worker has is not from attacks from outside the church. Attacks from within the church are always more painful than serious persecution. After all we have sacrificed for others for such meager material rewards, we are misunderstood, slandered, and ignored in our time of need. That we will experience this is as sure as the sunrise in the morning. We’d better be prepared to face it!
What! At peace with the Father, and at war with His children? It cannot be.
Many of us [in the church] are like porcupines trying to huddle together on a bitter cold night to keep each other warm, but we continually poke and hurt each other the closer we get.
The idea that the unity of the church found expression in some kind of external organization or ecclesiastical structure finds no support in the New Testament. Furthermore, the idea of denominations would be abhorrent to [the Apostle] Paul. The nearest thing to denominations was the sects in Corinth that Paul heartily condemned (1 Cor. 1:12ff).
Not to be in fellowship with those who are born again is to be guilty of schism, which is sinful.
Every problem that our church has ever faced can be tracked back to a lack of love.
What the Lord laments and opposes, Satan applauds and fosters. Few things demoralize, discourage, and weaken a church as much as bickering, backbiting and fighting among its members… Because of quarrelling the Father is dishonored, the Son is disgraced, His people are demoralized and discredited, and the world is turned off and confirmed in unbelief. Fractured fellowship robs Christians of joy and effectiveness, robs God of glory, and robs the world of the true testimony of the gospel. A high price for an ego trip!
While controversy is not always a symptom of a weak or decayed Christianity, the present contentions have been within the church itself; and its holy unity has been rudely rent by trivial disputes. Must not unauthorized schism provoke His displeasure, quench His Spirit, and result in the withholding of the grace without which the church must wither and weaken and decay?
Divisions in the church always breed atheism in the world.
I have never yet known the Spirit of God to work where the Lord’s people were divided.
The gospel being what it is and always will be, “the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19), our churches should be the most reconciling, peaceable, relaxed, happy places in town. We are so open to enemies, so meek in the face of insults and injuries, so forgiving toward the undeserving — if we do make people angry, let this be the reason. We refuse to join in their selfish battles. We’re following a higher call. We are the peacemakers, the true sons of God (Matthew 5:9).
The church, indeed every Christian, is an odd combination of self-sacrificing saint and self-serving sinner. And the church, unlike some social organizations, doesn’t have the luxury of choosing its members; the church is an assembly of all who professed themselves believers (Marshall Shelly).
Nothing is bloodier than a religious war. Issues aren’t just as human squabbles; everything is elevated to eternal importance… How tempting… to mistake our will for God’s. How devilish to believe that disagreeing with me is disagreeing with God (Marshall Shelly).
Taking opportunities to build a close, cohesive church will produce better results than the shrewdest political maneuvers to squash dissenters after problems sprout. Defusing potential problems before they arise is far better than troubleshooting later on (Marshall Shelly).
The cause of sin is never so much helped as when Christians waste their strength in quarreling with one another, and spend their time in petty squabbles.
The times haven’t changed. Infighting, friendly fire within the church has become a great hindrance to the Gospel work and has resulted in many discouraged, disappointed, depressed and defeated, once-motivated servants of Christ. Satan will muster all of his forces to oppose God’s work. Quite often he will use Spiritless people from within to hinder the work of Spirit-filled people. Tragically, sometimes our greatest opponents can be those within the household of faith simply because they are critical, bitter or jealous.
Someone once said we are all brought to the same level at the foot of the cross. The cross pours contempt on our pride and screams to us that reconciliation with God was entirely the work of Jesus. The cross screams to us that God justifies all His children with the same infinite love. The cross screams to us that we are all adopted into the same spiritual family in the same way with the same privileges. The cross screams to us that the sins of disunity such as discord, hatred, bitterness, strife, divisiveness, malice, jealousy, envy, disgust, indifference, unforgiveness have all been shattered by the cross and are therefore unacceptable amongst God’s redeemed. The cross teaches us that the grace that saves us results in grace that transforms us to live more like Jesus Christ, the “Prince of Peace” Himself. And the cross teaches us to join Paul in his never-ending refrain of boasting only in the cross (Gal. 6:14). And with our eyes on the cross, we strike a deathblow to our pride which fuels our divisions.
Do we divide over preferences, convictions, interest, age, gender or skin color? Do we divide over unresolved conflict, jealousy or bitterness? Is there a spirit in us of elitism that views ourselves better than anyone in the church?
Strong Christians refuse to make it about themselves and the engagement in petty battles. It’s not about personal vendettas, but winning the war for Jesus. Weak people get easily offended and use their energy to defend their wounded ego. Their will and their kingdom now becomes more important than God’s will and kingdom. And when Christians get there, they are in the flesh and being used by the devil. They are defeated.
The Bible warns against being self-willed or creating factions. Furthermore, James tells us that when it comes in corporate worship, we should not play favorites or create distinctions among one another. Of course, we celebrate family and friendships, but Sunday morning is not to celebrate the people we like the most. It is to celebrate the oneness we have in Christ with each other. That’s what makes us different than the world. That’s what heaven is all about. That’s a biblical church with one accord with each other, not several factions splintered among family and friendship distinctions or at worse “toxic tribalism.” That gets celebrated outside the body, but not when the body of Christ gathers. Understanding the balance calls for discernment and self-control and love. It calls for Christian maturity.
Satan greatly approves of our railing at each other, but God does not.
Most often, people who say that others have no love are themselves the ones most lacking. They think the new commandment says, “Love me or I’ll destroy you and your church.” They sit around waiting for other people to love them. How easy it is to see the speck of lovelessness in another’s eye but miss the log of self-centeredness, hypocrisy, and anger in your own eye (Matt. 7:3-5).
Behind most church fights and unresolved divisions is ugly human pride. And the worst kind of pride is religious pride, the Pharisaical pride of self-righteousness and superiority.
There is nothing wrong with Christian disagreeing with one another or trying to persuade another of the rightness of a particular position. What is wrong, however, is loveless conflict that ends in hate and bitterness.
The more fractured we are, the greater we become spectacles to the world. The more we are united in love, the more the world sees Christ.
It is an instructive and solemn fact, brought out in the history of more than one revival, that when a whole neighborhood had been well watered with the showers of grace, no drop of blessing has descended there where a spirit of controversy and strife had obtained a footing. The Spirit of God hovered around but fled from the scene of discord as from a doomed region where his dove-like temper could find no resting-place… Ever remember that “His work is sown in peace of them that make peace,” and no dwelling can be more distasteful, no vessel more unsuitable to Him, than a heart which delights itself with matters that provoke contention and strife… Labor with all diligence to keep your own minds in the peace of God, and in your intercourse and connection with others ever to strive for “the things which make for peace.”
O love! How much want is there of you in the Church of Christ! And how much does the Church feel for this want! It groans, it languishes, it dies daily because of your absence. Return, O love, return! Repair breaches, restore paths to dwell in, edify the old ways and places, and raise up the foundations of many generations.