Two very angry groups of people are fighting.
Their fight seems to have something to do with land, buildings and ancient, unresolved prejudices.
Religion is somehow involved too.
Ask the casual observer to give a summary of the dispute between Israel and Hamas and this is the response you’re likely to get.
Ask the casual observer to give a summary of the dispute at your church, and you’re likely to get the same response.
There were all kinds of church splits in the New Testament. Some split because greedy liars were exposed for theirs sins (Acts 5:1-11). Some split because impostors were seeking to pull people away with false teachings (1 John 2:19). These are good reasons for a church to split up.
Unlike what we see in the New Testament, most of the church splits that I hear about these days have nothing directly to do with theology. Most of the disputes, to a casual observer like me, center around things like land, buildings and ancient unresolved prejudices.
Sort of like that conflict between Israel and Hamas that you keep hearing about. In the Middle East, the fight involves groups of people fighting over what they both believe to be rightfully theirs.
Many churches are no different.
This is my pew.
This is my classroom.
This is my ministry.
And, most destructive of all, this is my church.
Man, I wish that I was making that up. I wish that someone could legitimately call me out for going overboard in my description of some church conflicts. But it’s hard to argue against reality.
Each my that we fight for in the church comes with an arsenal of verbal, spiritual and sometimes even physical firepower to support our long-held positions.
This is my pew and here’s a verbal roadside bombing to prove my point.
This is my classroom and I’ve got plenty of missiles of bitterness and mean-spiritedness to keep it that way.
This is my ministry and I’ll fight to keep it the way that I want it until the day I die.
This is my church and I’ll stop at nothing to hold on to it, even if it means the death of my church.
Sadly, that’s usually what ends up happening. That church dies.
To the casual observer of what’s happening around the globe, the Middle East has always been the way that it is and it always will be that way. Why bother trying to fix it or even paying attention to it? Next story please.
To the casual observer of what’s happening in your church, church people always fight about stupid things. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it always will be. Why bother trying to fix it or even paying attention to it. Meanwhile, the folks at the bar or in the hunting club never fight. Next story please.
I don’t know that anyone will ever win the constant fighting in the Middle East. Someone may quit before the other one does but both sides will suffer more than their share of casualties. There is no real victor is disputes like these.
The same is true with your church. Sure, some group of people may eventually leave while another stays behind to claim their victory but without repentance and forgiveness, both sides lose. There is no real victor in disputes like these.
Well, I guess that there is one victor.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)
Satan loves using Christians as his weapons when he attacks other Christians. Double the destruction. It’s what he does.
Many Christians feel as though it is their God-given mandate to support Israel in any and everything that happens around the world. But isn’t it ironic how many of those same Christians will pledge their unyielding support to a nation while systematically destroying their church with their own verbal and spiritual missiles?
If Christians really understood what it meant to support Israel, they’d stop the fighting in their own churches. The local church after all is closer to the New Testament picture of Israel than any geographical location in the Middle East.
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. Romans 9:6-8 (ESV)
If you’re a Christian, you are, spiritually speaking at least, Israel.
So if you really want to support Israel, love and support your church.
Stop lobbing your missiles.
Let go of your pew.
Let go of your classroom.
Let go of your ministry.
Let go of your church.
And surrender it all to your pastor – Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18).
Anything short of that, and the casual observers in your community will just keep on seeing the same old thing at your church.
Two very angry groups of people fighting.
The fight seems to have something to do with land, buildings and ancient, unresolved prejudices.
Religion is somehow involved too.
Next story please.