by Barry Arnold
Disunity: An Age-Old Problem
In the New Testament churches we find this problem even in those dug out by the Apostle Paul. In Corinth he said, “There are divisions among you” (1 Corinthians 11:18). Paul expended his energy to build the Ephesian church and when he departed, he had a great fear resting on his heart. This is what he said in Acts 20, “For I know this that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-31).
Some people do not have a heart for the flock. Wolves do not have a heart for the flock. But, not only from without, but from within, men will arise speaking perverse things, (creating discord) to draw away people after them. Later, Paul writes to the Ephesian church, “Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3).
In Proverbs, we read of seven things that God hates, including “a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among the brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-18). Sowing seeds of discord is what Paul spoke out against. Paul’s expectation for the Corinthian church was “that there be no divisions among you” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
We need to be careful what we say and do behind the scenes and in the presence of others so that we do not create an undercurrent that will bring division and destruction.
The Beauty of Unity
“Behold,” says the psalmist, perhaps because it is so rare to see such beautiful unity among the brethren. He says, “Take a good look; it is possible.” God looks upon it with approval. Who can estimate the value of this kind of oneness in the Christian fellowship?
Unity is Jesus’ goal for believers. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. … That they may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:17-21).
When there is discord in the church, we do not give a convincing testimony to the unsaved.
Striving For Unity
God has blessed us with a great church and given us some good days. God knows we have plenty of room for improvement but there is nothing that would please the devil more than to divide our ranks and destroy us. Jesus prayed for our sanctification that we might be one, and that the world might know it. When there is discord in the church we do not give a convincing testimony to the unsaved.
We need to be careful what we say and do behind the scenes and in the presence of others so that we do not create an undercurrent that will bring division and destruction. In each of the three churches that I have pastored, a group of unsatisfied people broke away because they claimed we were too conservative or not spiritual enough. An individual or two persuaded the others. Today, none of those groups are in existence and most of the leaders either are deceased or have gone astray.
We need to be careful. If we ever needed to stick together, hold together, pray together, love one another, and bear with one another, it is now.