Monday, August 22, 2011


Several years ago I was called by the leaders of a divided church in the Joplin area asking if I would consent to mediate a specially called congregational meeting on a Wednesday night. The two remaining elders were hopeful that someone coming in from the outside could be a catalyst to assist in healing a split in their church family. When I walked into the worship auditorium and down the center aisle at 7 PM that evening, it was as quiet as a morgue. Now, almost always, when you get a group of Christians together, you see loving expressions; you hear easy conversation and spontaneous laughter. It is often hard to get people quiet! But, such was not the case that particular Wednesday evening. It felt like a Quaker prayer meeting. Tumbleweeds seemed to be blowing through the worship center! On each side were an equal number of people with resolute faces and folded arms. And there was also a noticeable difference in the demographic of the two sides. On the west side were the younger folks. On the east side were the older adults. As it turned out, the division had developed because the younger people were forming into small groups through the week to study the Bible and pray together/for each other. The older adults were concerned that it would lead to ‘problems’….and they were right….it had….and they were seeing to it!

I doubt that God ever blesses a bickering church. He loves the church and it is a dangerous thing to sow discord, division or disharmony in the church. Proverbs 6:19 declares that one of the things God hates, that is detestable to him, is “a man [woman] who stirs up dissension among brothers.” It is said of the early church in the book of Acts, chapter 2, that “they were all together” when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Later in the same chapter, three times in two verses, Luke mentions their togetherness: “All the believers were together” [vs. 44]; “Every day they continued to meet together…. They broke bread in their homes and ate together.” [vs. 46]

So, let us be bridge-builders and peacemakers and peacekeepers. Let’s work hard and do our best to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. And, as much as it is in our power to do so, let’s live in peace with everyone. This will result in our being an answer to the prayer of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, when, on his face, with perspiration falling like droplets of blood, he prayed that we would be one.

Pray with me…. Father, I thank you for the joy of being in a church family that is united in heart and spirit. I praise you for being able to personally experience the truth of the Proverb…. how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity! Make us one and keep us together as one in our marriages, our families and our church family. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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