Churches die from within

Good morning everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Personal Responsibility”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3 (CSB)
 
Our thought for today: “Churches die from within”
 
I’m currently reading an excellent book entitled, “Winsome Conviction: Disagreeing Without Dividing the Church” by Tim Muehlhoff and Richard Langer. The basic premise is that Christians within a church family have to be able to respectfully disagree on non-essential issues, without hurting or dividing the church. There are some moral and theological absolutes that do have to be agreed upon and on which we cannot compromise. But most things don’t fall into the category of “absolute”. Political preferences being a perfect example.
 
At one point the authors pose the question “What is the greatest threat to the church of Jesus Christ today?” They then go on to suggest some possible answers: postmodern relativism, the LGBTQ agenda, racial injustice, sexual predators, Islamic fundamentalism, etc. But then they write this:
 
“But without denying the significance of any of those threats, we believe the greatest threat to the church today is the same as it has been in every generation since the New Testament was written: quarreling. Persecution (from outside forces) strengthens the church. Intellectual and cultural challenges deepen our faith and stimulate our theological thinking. Ethical commitments that conflict with the culture make us stand out as salt and light – or at times may provoke us to purify our own lives to become better salt and light. Quarreling, on the other hand, is insidiously dangerous because it kills from within.”
 
They are right. It’s very rare for a church to die as a result of an assault from an outside force. Almost always churches get sick and slowly die from within. Very often that sickness is the result of quarreling and divisions among the members, and usually, those quarrels are about non-essential things. I can’t remember a case of a church being divided and splitting because one group insisted there weren’t even people being saved and the other group thought there were already too many. Usually, church members are in agreement about the absolutes of the faith. Church fights almost always revolve around lesser important things that should not be allowed to take on such importance and to do so much damage.
 
God has given us each personal responsibility for protecting the unity of our churches. Unity among the faithful was a prominent theme in the New Testament writings of the Apostle Paul. Ephesians 4:1-3 (above) is just one of the many passages on the subject. Colossians 3:12-14 is another, “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
 
Churches almost always die from within. God has given us all personal responsibility to be agents of peace, reconciliation, and unity in our church families. We’ll think more about this tomorrow.
 
God bless,
Pastor Jim    
Copyright © 2022 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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