A lot has changed in ministry since the days of Jesus, Peter, and Paul (like the fact I can write in Nicaragua, hit “Publish,” and instantly share it with the world). Here’s one extremely unfortunate constant: the body of Christ continues to fight against itself. The problem has been with the Church since the beginning. The religious leaders did not like what Jesus was teaching, and eventually had him killed for it. Jesus’ own Disciples disagreed with one another, jockeyed for position, and even rebuked Jesus. In the years after the resurrection debates waged over leadership, circumcision, who the gospel should be preached to, worship, etc. When we read the letters of the Apostle Paul we quickly see that he was constantly having to “put out fires” in church after church. And the history of the church does not exactly get better after Bible times! As one of my seminary professors put it, the history of the church can be summed up like this: 2,000 years of humans trying to tear apart what Christ built.
Yes, the Church has accomplished MANY great things in the name of Christ over the past 2,000 years. I love the Church and the impact it has had, and continues to have. But, my heart also breaks for all the fighting that occurs. I’m guessing I don’t need to offer a detailed explanation about fighting in the church, as you’ve all likely experienced it firsthand. I’ve come to the conclusion that we all have two options in the face of this problem: we can keep complaining about, it or we can start being part of the solution. Paul lays out the basics of the solution:
Speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy. And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. Titus 3:2-5, 14
Let me break that down for us into some simple points
- Remember the belief we all share: that Jesus died to save us. That uniting belief is much greater then any disagreement we may have.
- Never speak poorly of others. Correct if you must (with love and respect), but never seek to tear down and cause hurt.
- Love and respect should govern our interactions. We can (and will) disagree on a host of things, but that should never lead us to stop loving others or showing them the respect they deserve as brothers and sisters in Christ
- Remember that we are to do good works and to be fruitful. Stop getting lost in preferences, and always focus on bearing fruit for God’s Kingdom.
Let us strive to strengthen the Body of Christ so that it can truly be a shining light for God on this earth.