Thomas Rainer, president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Ministries, has a compilation of some of the funniest (and saddest) things that have caused divisions and/or splits in churches. Here are a sampling of these wonderful reasons to disrupt the body of Christ:
1. A 45-minute heated argument over the type of filing cabinet to purchase: black or brown; 2, 3, or 4 drawers
2. A big church argument over the discovery that the church budget was off $0.10. Someone finally gave a dime to settle the issue
3. Arguments over what type of green beans the church should serve
4. Two different churches reported fights over the type of coffee. In one of the churches, they moved from Folgers to a stronger Starbucks brand. In the other church, they simply moved to a stronger blend. Members left the church in the latter example
5. Some church members left the church because one church member hid the vacuum cleaner from them. It resulted in a major fight and split
While we can’t help but crack a smile at some of those (perhaps you could add a similar type story to that list as well), we also must realize how much Satan really enjoys seeing those types of things happen as well. For that reason, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:10, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Paul says that he beseeching or begging the Corinthian church to stay united and to end the divisions that had started to take root in the church.
From further reading in chapter 1, we see that the church had started to divide itself by who certain members looked up to as their leader/representative. Some identified with Paul, some with Peter, some with Apollos, while others, certainly the most spiritual, simply stated that they were “of Christ.” From verses 13-15 we can ascertain that some of the groups within the church were based on who baptized who while others no doubt had other reasons identify with a certain leader. Either way, these cliques in the church were disrupting the unity that Paul and ultimately God Himself desired. Paul wrote that this body of believers should be “perfectly joined together of the same mind”. Wow, what a perfect way to describe the unity that should be evident in any body of believers, including Anthony Baptist. Let’s not let anything, no matter how “big” or petty it might be, to get in the way of that type of unity.
As communication technology improves, we connect faster than ever with people. A message is sent instantly. A phone call or even a video call brings the most distant of friends near, almost like they are in the room with you.
However, have you ever thought you were being ignored? It is some times an irritating feeling, and at other times a painful feeling. Job felt suddenly distant. “Who calleth upon God, and he answereth him?” (Job 12:4). The close contact he once enjoyed seemed silent now. Oh, how much Joseph wished to embrace his father who loved him supremely, yet to see his father again seemed less and less likely with each passing year. Paul desired to be able to fellowship with so many faithful believers in Rome. He even mentions many by name and favorably describes their value in the kingdom of heaven. The weight of silence caused Jesus’ disciples to mourn and weep (Mark 16:10). They, like Job, must have felt they were “as one mocked of his neighbour, [and] is laughed to scorn” (Job 12:4). Where is their great Master and King now?
The Bible says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). The first beams of hope burst from the dark jagged horizon of discouragement. Joseph “made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father…and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while” (Genesis 46:29). For a moment consider the ecstasy that possessed Mary Magdalene’s soul. She knew darkness and solitude when she was incarcerated by seven devils, but Jesus rescued her from their power then and forever as she hears the resurrected Savior’s call!
We may ask, “How long, O Lord?” We may feel the weight of the silence, but don’t forget “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). The goodbyes which you may think will never end, will one day become hello forever. Make certain you are listening for “the voice of my beloved” and “prepare to meet thy God.” Because of Him, our hope is still alive!
My hope is still alive!
My hope is still alive!
My Savior lives forever, Praise God, and so shall I.
Hallelujah, Christ is risen.
All pow’r to Him is given.
Christ Jesus lives.
My hope is still alive!
— Ron Hamilton
Statistics tell us that there is growing lack of biblical literacy in America. According to LifeWay Research, “only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week.” Many people view their Bible the same that they do their vehicle owner’s manual. They only open it up when something in their life is falling apart. However, the Bible is so much more. It is vital to any spiritual growth and knowledge of God.
In Romans 15:4, we see a fourfold purpose of Scripture. It says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we might through patience and comfort of scriptures might have hope.” This verse explains to us four reasons why we must read the Bible.
We see first that the Bible was written for our learning. This doesn’t just apply to historical facts, moral ethics, and systematic theology. The Word of God has all these, but it goes much deeper. The Word of God does not merely satisfy a curious intellect. Its truth enters the deepest part of a man’s heart and benefits him spiritually. It is through the Scripture that we learn about our separation from God, our need of reconciliation, and our only hope of eternal life- Jesus Christ. A man can know all the facts of the Bible, but if he never knows Christ in a saving relationship, he will never know life eternal.
We also see that the Bible is given for our patience. Patience is a calm, even-tempered, and untroubled spirit that guides the Christian through the trials of life. Noah is a great example of patience. He simply determined to obey God in the midst of a godless culture. We must be like Noah and patiently wait on God and serve Him with our lives. It is the Word of God that grants us the patience that we need.
Third, we see that the Scripture is given for our comfort. Our comfort is found in the pages of Scripture. We ought to find comfort in the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the sure promises of God, and in the unchanging character of God.
Lastly, we see that we find our hope from the Word of God. We are called to a life of faith. And faith is defined as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). We live in hope when we look for the return of our Lord. We live in hope of receiving our glorified bodies and being conformed to the image of Christ. We live in hope of our eternal abode in His glorious presence.
Why should we read the Bible? It is our only source of true knowledge. The Bible is also our only source of patience through the trials of life, comfort in our innermost being, and an abiding hope that we constantly anticipate.
Will we be remembered after we are gone? Most want to leave a memorable legacy. When older we have much time for reflection and tend to think of our accomplishments/failures. What mark have we made on society; or more important, on our family’s, for the cause of Christ? We all have done good things, but we all have done things we are not proud of (Ec. 7:21). Sometimes we get hung up comparing good with bad. We think good works are the prerequisite for Heaven. The Bible reminds us our “good works” are nothing (Is. 64:6).
If we were spoke of in a crowd, how would we be remembered? Would it be as if Abraham Lincoln walked in and honorable silence befell the room? Would we receive the respect of a President? Would we be remembered for our achievements? Or would they fall to their knees as if in the presence of Jesus? Hardly! Most would ask of me, who’s he? On the other hand, I’m not an Arnold or Iscariot! They left a legacy of deceit and treachery. These men were traitors to their cause.
In Mark 14 is the story of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. He was a disciple of Christ (“…Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve…” vs:10). His biggest accomplishment is that he sold out the Saviour and did it with a kiss. There are two types of kisses: a head kiss and a heart kiss. In most relationships both are utilized, but in this case it was a head kiss. Allow me to explain. A head kiss is one we use routinely and almost systematically. This is the quick peck at the door when you leave for work or a ring kiss to a dignitary. There isn’t much thought to it. Now the heart kiss is just that: from the heart. We are putting our emotions into it. It is saying to the recipient I love you, I would do anything for you, etc. Now that you know the difference, you can tell that Judas’ heart was not in this kiss. Jesus knew all along that Judas was not a true believer. He was in it for the ride of gain. “And when they heard it, (Judas’ ratting out Jesus) they were glad, and promised to give him money” (vs. 11).
We have heard the saying “Sealed with a kiss.” In this case, it was the kiss of death. When we are thought of, will it be as godly folk or deceitful traitors? All of this is important, but vitally is how we kiss the Saviour! Will it be a Judas kiss (head); or a Luke 7:38 kiss (heart), “And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”
Have you ever struck up a conversation with someone about a mutual topic of interest, only to find that your knowledge of the subject was…well, lacking? You thought you understood what was going on and then the other person started talking on another level? Sometimes it feels like that in life too. You think you understand God’s plan and then circumstances change. Then you feel like you don’t understand anything anymore!
Think about Joseph. He was doing what his father asked of him, only to be sold into slavery. Then, he did his best as a slave, only to be thrown in prison. In prison, he tried to be a model prisoner and help out his fellow inmates, only to be forgotten. Even after all that, God still had a plan. That plan ultimately turned Joseph from a prisoner into a prince, and ultimately, the one who saved the known world (and more importantly, Israel) from famine.
What about Job? In Job 7:2, he says that the person who works hard through the day looks forward to a break from the sun, but it feels like he can’t get a break from the struggles he is enduring. “Well,” you might think, “His struggles were brought on by his own bad choices.” On the contrary! In God’s own words to Satan, Job is called “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.” That’s quite a testimony! So if Job was doing all those things right, why did he go through the difficulties that he faced? Again, God had a bigger, more important plan in play.
In Mark 11, Jesus tells his disciples to do something that doesn’t make sense. They are supposed to go to a nearby city, find a donkey and take it without even asking. If anybody asks, just tell them, “The Master hath need of it.” Doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.
But what makes even less sense is the response of the people, and how it changes in the course of just one week. If everybody loved Jesus, then why, a week later, are they lobbying to kill him? God had a bigger plan in motion.
Romans 11 talks about how God seemingly abandoned Israel to allow the Gentiles (that’s us) to receive the Gospel. So did God just stop caring about the Jews? Not at all. This spiritual blindness of the Jews is only temporary. There will be a time when they turn back to God. In the meantime though, the free gift of eternal life has been opened to all! They may be rejecting the Savior now, but as God’s chosen people, they are still loved!
So what do all these things have in common? Sometimes, God’s choices and actions don’t make sense to us. Many times in my own life, I have been tempted to think that maybe God made a mistake, or that something slipped by Him. However, each time, I find these truths from Romans 11:33-36:
1. God has a much deeper understanding of my life (and everything else) than I do. 2. If I try to give God advice, it would be comical how ignorant I would sound. 3. God’s plan will bring Him glory, and in so doing will be what’s best for me as well.
Sometimes, God’s plan doesn’t make sense, like Joseph, or Job, or the Jews, but God’s plan is always best. “As for God, His way is perfect…and [He] maketh my way perfect.” Psalm 18:30a, 32b