"How to Stop Strife in the Family of God”
Introduction: In my 66 years of life, I have had the privilege of worshipping in many churches. Of those churches, I have served as a Senior Pastor in three, and as an Assistant Pastor in one. During that time I have observed:
People, who leave churches because of PROBLEMS in SOME AREA OF THE MINISTRY, come to find the same problems welcoming them on the front porch of their new church.
People, who leave churches because of PROBLEMS WITH MEMBERS, find members with those same problems waiting for them at the door of their new church.
People, who leave churches because of an ENEMY, find that same enemy as a member of the church to which they are now going.
One cannot avoid or evade problems concerning human relationships. They will occur and they need to be solved. Whether we like it or not:
We must relate to people who are weaker than we are.
We must relate to people who are stronger than we are.
We must relate to the fallen ones, to the brokenhearted, and to our enemies.
We must relate to people who are irritating, and even to those who are carnal in nature.
All of these types of people are found in every church. If we are going to reach a lost world for Christ, we must learn to relate to them, and not to run from them. I have found God's people are basically the same everywhere. Every little group is a microcosm of all other little groups and each of us will benefit from learning to live peaceably with those in our little group.
Somewhere I read this profound statement, "There has never been a church in any age or in any place free from DISCORD or immune to the DANGER of RIVALRY or STRIFE." This statement leads me to the question: “Why? Why do we have strife in our Churches?”
FIRST: The first reason I believe we have strife in our churches is there are more people in our churches who live and serve on the level of carnality than on the level of spirituality. That is they live and serve in the energy of the human flesh rather than in the energy and the power of the Spirit of God. That's sad, but nevertheless true.
The Apostle Paul warned the churches in Galatia about this in Galatians 5:13-16, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. (14) For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (15) But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. (16) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” In essence Paul is saying, "If you walk in the flesh you will bite and devour one another. On the other hand if you are walking in the energy of the Spirit of God you will be serving one another.”
The Apostle Paul warned the church at Philippi about this in Philippians 2:1-4, “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, (2) Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.(3) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than themselves.(4) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”Here Paul gives us a word about the unity and harmony that is to be within a church. From verse 2, the phrase, “being of one accord,” refers to Paul's desire for the church to be KNIT TOGETHER as ONE UNIT.
The Apostle Paul condemned the church at Corinth for their divisional spirit. In I Corinthians 1:10-12 we read, “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. (11) For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. (12) Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Paul saw the Church at Corinth divided into 4 different groups in verses 11-12:
Some were following APOLLOS and sat in their section.
Some said, “I am of PAUL,” and they would sit in their section.
Others said, “I am with PETER,” and they would sit in their section.
Then there were those who came with an air of spirituality, saying that they were followers of Jesus.
And that is why Paul said what he did in I Corinthians 3:1-4, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. (2) I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (3) For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (4) For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?”
Dear Brother and Sister in Christ, what I am about to say, I say to you very lovingly, humbly.
Unless you walk into the house of God asking the Holy Spirit to give you spiritual ears to hear the Word of God, you will arrive with a carnal mind, hear the message in a carnal way and leave with a carnal attitude, unchanged and unresponsive to the Word of God.
Unless you serve the Lord in the energy of the Spirit of God you are serving in the energy of the human flesh (carnal spirit). You may think that you are doing right in the human flesh, but your efforts of seeking to do right are wrong in the sight of God.
One reason why churches have strife and division is because there are far too many who are living and serving in the carnal energy of the human flesh, rather than in the energy of the Holy Spirit of God.
SECOND: I believe we have strife and division in the church because we have forgotten the purpose of the BODY OF CHRIST. It was the Apostle Paul who used this unique illustration of the HUMAN BODY to get the point across that the Church is the BODY OF CHRIST.
In his letters to the churches at Rome, Corinth, Ephesus and Closse, Paul used the Greek word SOMA meaning "BODY" more than thirty times to illustrate the functioning Church. The BODY OF CHRIST, the church, is an organism whose LIFE, UNITY, and GROWTH are dependent upon the resources of its risen head, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In I Corinthians 12:12-26 Paul uses the word body seventeen times to illustrate in the HUMAN sense how the LIVING BODY, the church, should operate. In these verses we read, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (13) For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (14) For the body is not one member, but many. (15) If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? (16) And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? (17) If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? (18) But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. (19) And if they were all one member, where were the body? (20) But now are they many members, yet but one body. (21) And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. (22) Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (23) And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. (24) For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: (25) That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. (26) And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” If we outline the above passage, we find that:
Verse 12, the body is one unit with many members.
Verses 13-14, at the moment of salvation we are placed into this body by the Holy Spirit.
Verses 15-18, there should be no jealousy, as each body part has a job to do.
Verses 19-24, each part of the body is necessary and important.
Verses 24-25, all parts of the body must work together.
Again please notice verse 25, "That there be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another." From these verses let me give you FOUR admonitions which indicate how we are to live as members in the Body of Christ.
Number 1: In verses 14-20 we read, “For the body is not one member, but many. (15) If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? (16) And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? (17) If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? (18) But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. (19) And if they were where were the body? (20) But now are they many members, yet but one body.” Here Paul is teaching “No individual Christian can function effectively by himself.”
There are times when I have a good appetite, and my eyes become bigger than my stomach. That’s not really possible, but when I think of the process of eating, it takes my EYES, HANDS, FINGERS, LIPS, TEETH, TONGUE, MOUTH, and ESCOPHAGUS just to consume the food I chose to eat. And these are just a few of the many parts of my body working together to keep me alive and functioning.
Just as there are many parts to my body in the physical make up, so the body of Christ is made up of many members. EACH MEMBER OF THAT BODY IS IMPORTANT. We are indeed "MEMBERS OF ONE ANOTHER."
No member of Christ's body can say, "I don't need you." We all need each other. I cannot say as Pastor I don't need the music department, because God gave them a talent that I do not possess with which to bless us. THERE ARE NO INSIGNIFICANT JOBS OR MINISTRIES IN THE CHURCH. Each person’s job and every ministry no matter if it appears behind the scenes or out front, is just as important as any other.
The most important characteristic of the body of Christ is UNITY. But DIVERSITY is essential to that unity. The church is one BODY, but the BODY IS NOT ONE MEMBER, BUT MANY. Bear this in mind as you read the following:
"The Corinthian church, as many churches today, was divided where it should have been unified and tried to be uniform where it should have been diverse. On the one hand it was divided, for example, over leadership–whether to follow Paul, Apollos, or Peter (1:12), when it should have been unified under the perfect leadership of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, the members tried to be alike in all having certain spiritual gifts, especially the SHOWY ones such as speaking in tongues, instead of being glad for and faithful to the gift God had given to them."
It appears the Corinthian believers were unhappy with their gifts. ENVY and JEALOUSY are sure signs of carnality, and it seems everyone wanted a gift that someone else had. Listen to this statement: "Selfishness is never satisfied, envy and jealousy is never content." Paul is teaching us that,
The church is one BODY, but the BODY IS NOT ONE MEMBER, BUT MANY.
NO INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIAN CAN FUNCTION EFFECTIVELY BY HIMSELF.
Number 2: In verses 22-23 we read, “Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (23) And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.” HerePaul is teaching us “No member of Christ's Body should feel he is MORE important than another member of Christ's body.” No Christian has exclusive rights to God's grace. Yet some were saying "I don't need you, my position is more important than yours." On the other hand Paul was saying, “NO MEMBER of Christ's body is more important than any other.” Though one person may have a more responsible position, in God’s sight, the person who may go un-noticed is just as important and necessary in the body of Christ.
If we are going to go forth "LIKE A MIGHTY ARMY" then the Church must function in HARMONY under the authority of Jesus Christ our HEAD and in the POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. “Your Pastor needs your ministry and your spiritual gift to see him through just as you need His.” No Christian can say to any other Christian, "MY MINISTRY CAN GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU!"
I believe most of us would not consciously do anything to deliberately hurt our bodies. God forbid, that any of us should do anything that would harm the Lord's BODY, the CHURCH, or by ruining another's gift or destroying other members in the fellowship.
In verses 15-18 we again read, “If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? (16) And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? (17) If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? (18) But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” Paul is saying DO NOT BELITTLE YOURSELF. Don't go around acting as if you have a pickle in your mouth saying, "If only I had the talent of Mrs. So & So or if I only had the talents and the opportunities of Mr. So and So, I could do something for the Lord."
You need to accept the TALENTS, GIFTS, and ABILITIES God has given to you and do your BEST to serve God with them. YOU ARE AS MUCH ALIVE IN CHRIST AS I AM. YOUR MINISTRY IS AS IMPORTANT AS MINE.
In verses 20-24 we again read, “But now are they many members, yet but one body. (21) And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. (22) Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (23) And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. (24) For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:” Here Paul is saying do not depreciate members in the body of Christ. You may not have an opportunity or talent in the public eye, but without you those in the public eye could not function. I am thinking of two individuals right now, names don't matter, God knows who they are.
The first one was in our first ministry. This dear lady in her 80's was more faithful in the nursery than those in their 30's. She was always there. In addition, she constantly reminded me that she was praying for me. Was her name ever in the lime light? Not here on this earth.
The second one was in the ministry where I served for a number of years as an assistant pastor. At that time there was a young lady in her early 30's who was the mind and the mover behind the Christmas and Easter productions at the Church. These productions were seen by some 8000-9000 people every year. The audiences saw the Pastor, the actors, the large choir and the choir director. But not many people ever knew this young lady existed. However, without her the whole production would never have come together nor blessed the hearts of so many.
Paul is teaching “No member of Christ's Body should feel he is MORE important than another member of Christ's body.”No matter if you are out in front, where everyone can see what you do, or behind the scenes where no one sees you or where nobody seems to care, you are important to the overall function of the body of Christ.
NUMBER 3: In verses 25-26 we read, “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. (26) And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” Here Paul is teaching us “We should work hard at creating unity in the church.” Remember the problem at Corinth was a divided body.
A divided BODY is a sick BODY.
A divided HOME is a sick HOME.
A divided CHURCH is a sick CHURCH.
A divided CHURCH is not a spirit controlled CHURCH, but a spiritually-carnal controlled CHURCH.
God's desire is for there to be no “Divisions” or "Schism" in the church. Here is an interesting quote, “Diversity leads to disunity when the members compete with one another; but diversity leads to unity when the members CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER.” Now, take a moment and thoughtfully think through these questions.
In this church, do you really care for one another in the body of Christ?
In this church, does it really matter what happens to another member?
In this church, do you really care if another member has a need?
In this church, no matter what others may or may not be doing, do you really care enough to hold up your part in the body of Christ? Think about it!
FOR JESUS SAKE, DO YOU REALLY CARE FOR OTHERS here within the body of Christ?
It is tragic and often true. Just when someone is needed the most in some function of the ministry, they split the scene because they are unhappy. They don’t leave because of a doctrinal dispute, but over some trivial matter due to pride or selfishness and thinking they have gotten the upper hand. In reality I have seen the tragic results which take place over and over again not only in the ministry of the church, but also in the lives of new Christians and children who are trying to grow in Christ.
The body of Christ, we know as the church, is judged by the ACTIONS and REACTIONS of its members. The world cannot see the mystical union between the BELIEVER and CHRIST, but it does see the effect. Jesus said in John 13:35, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, IF YOU HAVE LOVE ONE FOR ANOTHER." Paul is teaching us “We should work hard at creating unity in the church.”
Number 4: In verses 22-26 we read, “Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (23) And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. (24) For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: (25) That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. (26) And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” Again Paul is teaching us that we are to function for the benefit of others. The BODY we call the church is more than an organization. It is an ORGANISM. The weaker members are needed just as much as the stronger members. The less visible people are needed as much as those who are seen daily.
Here is an excellent conclusion to this passage of scripture I came across years ago. "Since what happens to one member in the church has an effect upon the whole body, as well as upon the whole church worldwide, it is time that we quit our comparisons, competitions, littleness, backbiting, envies, jealousies, hatreds, strifes, alienations, and factions. It is time that every part in Christ's body does the "ONE ANOTHERS" that the New Testament so often speaks about. Every member is to be involved in:
PRAYING for one another, James 5:16,
REJOICING and at times WEEPING with one another, Romans 12:15,
GREETING one another, I Peter 5:14,
LOVING one another, John 13:34-35,
SERVING one another, Galatians 5:13,
ENCOURAGING one another, I Thessalonians 5:14,
COMFORTING one another, Colossians 2:2,
BEARING WITH one another, Galatians 6:2,
FOREBEARING one another, Ephesians 4:2, and
BEING DEVOTED (kindly affectioned) one to another, Romans 12:10.
If by faith you have been born again, you are not only a part of the family of God, but also a part of our church family. Therefore,
You are to realize this is your church family, and. we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
You have a spiritual gift, given to you by God to function in the body of Christ for the benefit and blessing of the members of this church.
You are to ACCEPT each other’s spiritual gifts, and REJOICE in the blessing they are to you.
You should also be aware that one of these days someone in your church is going to disappoint you.
Therefore as brothers and sisters in Christ, as a part of the family of God, we need to:
Share in our defeats,
Share in our victories,
Share in our mistakes,
Share in our blessings.
Yes, this type of UNITY takes effort! In Ephesians 4:3 we read "make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace." Functioning in the Body of Christ:
Takes effort because unity is not automatic.
Takes effort to accept and get along with people.
Takes effort to constantly apply the principles of scripture.
Takes effort to have the mind of Jesus Christ.
Takes effort to lift up the weak or fallen brother or sister.
Takes effort to be patient and forgiving to each other.
Takes effort to love, encourage, comfort and pray for one another.
Nothing from without will destroy the ministry of the living church of Jesus Christ. However, if this church is destroyed, it will be done from within through divisions and schisms. Therefore, let us so labor in the functioning body of Christ, loving each other, praying for each other, encouraging each other, and serving each other. You need me, and most certainly, I NEED YOU!
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon "How to Stop Strife in the Family of God” then why not right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, will you let me know? Please send an e-mail to pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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In His Amazing Grace,
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