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1 Corinthians 3:3, “Where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men”

Ephesians 4:25, “We are members of one another”

I read a story some time ago about two sisters who were preparing Thanksgiving dinner. They had made their special stuffing, spooned it into the turkey, and were preparing to pop it into the oven. They got out the aluminum foil and were ready to cover the meat to help hold in the juices. Betty had started to place the foil on the turkey, when Paula snapped, “That’s not right! You’re supposed to put the shiny side out.” “That’s ridiculous,” Betty replied. “Everybody knows the shiny side goes on the inside.” A heated discussion followed, and I’m not sure who got her way. I found out later that both sisters were right because it makes absolutely no difference which side is out. Divisions that lead to church splits over such issues as the color of the carpet for the sanctuary, whether the choir should wear robes or differences of opinion regarding music and worship styles is also a frequent cause of division in the church are all too common occurrence in the body of Christ.

The excuses for the conflict are numerous, but they all stem from the same root cause – pride and selfishness. The effects of a church split, regardless of the cause, can be devastating. Church splits distress and dismay mature believers, disillusion new believers, cause havoc in the lives of pastors and their families, and bring reproach upon the name of Christ. The Apostle Paul told Timothy to “avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2 Timothy 2:23). Fundamental doctrines need to be guarded, but arguments about trivialities are not beneficial and only divide and draw us away from God’s purposes of what a church is for. In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, he described the unity of purpose (4:1-16) that should help us to work through disagreements without creating divisions. He knew all too well how selfish desires, personal agendas, and playing favorites could create havoc (1 Corinthians 3:1-9). So, my brethren let’s make sure our churches are safe havens from squabbles by remembering what a church is for.

Personal reflection:

Feuds are as old as the human race and as widespread as the common cold. Like the cold, once they start they infect others. It is insidious how easily feuds begin, how long they can last, and the damage they can do. In the late 1800s, two families, one in Kentucky and another in West Virginia, fought for nearly 20 years, and 12 people were killed from that useless feud. However, not all feuds are that blatant. They may be as subtle as a minor insult. Once they start they can gradually damage and then destroy families, churches, and lifelong relationships. The Apostle Paul knew the deadly effects that feuds could have in a congregation. So he reminded his readers in Ephesus, “We are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25). Is there a believer with whom you are angry or bitter, with whom you no longer speak? Once perhaps you were good friends, but have you let some petty offense turn your friend into an enemy? Hear what Paul said, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). Believers can make far greater advances for Christ’s cause when they act and pray together than they could ever make alone. Thus, when believers in Christ are united in serving the Lord, they can become a mighty force for God. The bottom line is we need other believers, and other believers need us.

Christians at war with each other cannot be at peace with their Heavenly Father.