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January 9, 2017

two-snakes“But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”

In 1962 the Defense Secretary Robert McNamara outlined a plan for American’s response to nuclear war. The plan was simple. America would build up a large enough arsenal of nuclear weapons that if Russia, or any other enemy, dared launch a nuclear atomic America would retaliate with such force that the attacker’s destruction would assured. This became the military doctrine of mutually assured destruction. The increase of the American and Russian nuclear arsenals meant America and Russia could not attack each other without risking total destruction. Any nuclear attack would assure the destruction of America and Russia.

Infighting within a church is always destructive to the entire church. Far too many churches have toxic cultures. These churches drive out pastors, drive off members, destroy their reputation and the few surviving members are left standing victorious in the ruins. A church culture characterized by strife is fatal to the church.

If you have differences with one another respond to them with grace and compassion. Go to each other and seek to resolve those differences. If someone has sinned against you and you cannot overlook the sin, go to them and tell them their fault. If you have sinned against another, go to that person and confess your fault to him.

If there is something the church should be doing, some ministry that should be taken on or some decision that should be made remember the words of Philippians 2, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory.”

The recent contentious election and campaign serves as a powerful illustration of what Paul is warning against. In the American system of politics different political parties compete against one another for votes. They do this by attempting to convince voters of the superiority of one candidate over another. This is definitely better than each candidate forming an army and sending the soldiers into battle to determine the next leader. Far better the conflict be waged in the poll booth than the battlefield. This may work for America but it does not work in the church. While it may be good policy for a nation, it is dangerous for a church.

The church must have nothing to do with strife or vainglory. Political party-mongering to gain a position or achieve a goal should be no part the Christian’s life. Do nothing by trying to gather a group who will be on your side. What this does is divides the church. Instead of doing things through strife and vainglory do all things “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Let love and selfless service for the good of others characterize the church.

Be warned, strife in the church may result in you getting your way, but it will also result in destruction to the entire church.


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