From time to time, in our Christian churches, people emerge whose influence creates divisions in them.
Perhaps with noble intentions, though wrong, or perhaps with selfish intentions, they hurt the church.
The Bible presents advice on how to deal with divisive people in the church.
I’d like to share with you a short Bible reading and then expand on the topic with a few comments.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.
Keep away from them.
For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.
By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
Romans 16: 17 – 18
In the face of the significant number of false teachers that were rising up in the early church in Paul’s time, the apostle is inviting the church brothers in Rome to avoid those who cause divisions among them.
These people had wrong ideas and communicated them in the least correct way, seeking to gain influence and power for themselves.
Their actions created obstacles to the growth of the work, and to the individual spiritual growth of church members.
It was common for people who did not fully believe the fundamental Christian doctrines to stand up trying to persuade others about their ideas.
All this, in contradiction to the truths that the apostles had preached.
These people, although apparently motivated by a desire to be faithful to the truth, were not serving the Lord Jesus, but were serving themselves, since they were moved by ego and personal ambitions.
If a person wants to serve God, he will necessarily take care that the way he acts and communicates what he believes does more good than harm to Christ’s church.
The church is such a beloved treasure for Him on this earth.
If a person is acting in such a way that he is causing unnecessary divisions, then it is very likely that in his mind his own opinion is more important than the welfare of the church.
In which case, their interest is personal and not collective.
The apostle Paul invites us to see beyond, despite the intentions of those who try to persuade us.
He invites us not to be naïve about the agendas and manipulations of others.
Likewise, we need to be wise in interacting with those who are creating division in the church.
While it is true that truth is ultimately important, and that we should not be closed to the possibility of growing in the knowledge of divine truths, these truths will never be against the fundamental truths of God’s redemptive work.
Things like salvation through grace and not through works, the unchanging character of God’s love, Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
Sadly, people often lack the wisdom to communicate their ideas in a way that can allow for genuine dialogue and scripture study, but do so in a way that polarizes, divides, and harms.
While it is true that we must exercise love for all people, even those who are making mistakes, it is important that we do not allow ill-intentioned or misguided people to destroy the unity and well-being of the church.
This is why the apostle Paul’s counsel to the church in Rome, and to us, today, is to avoid them.
I hope these words are a blessing to your life.
And what do you think? Is there anyone divisive in your church? Share in the comments.
A hug, God bless you.