I like reading Church History. It lets me know my church is just one in a long line of stupid churches.
Solomon tells us there is nothing new under the sun. Solomon is correct.
Churches have come and gone, and most have split first. Christians are disturbed by the Church Tradition of splitting churches. So much division, so much hostility, how can this be true of people who follow the Prince of Peace?
There are many reasons why this is the case. One is that the Prince of Peace said He came the first time, not to bring peace but a sword. As Paul said, “there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” Division kind of has to happen. There are wolves pretending to be sheep, test the spirits for there are “many false prophets.”
At the core of most of the division is a tension that runs all the way thru Church History. Rather than explain it, I’ll show examples of the tension:
Reason vs. Emotion
Cold Knowledge vs. Warm Love
The Bible vs. The Spirit
The Institution of the Church vs. The Body of Christ Church
Expository Preaching vs. Singing
All these things are the same battle.
I’ve run into this in my little church, a mere blip in the timeline of Church History. Yet this tension has threatened to split my church several times. People who have left my church have mostly left over this tension.
What is the solution? Which side is right? Will there ever be peace between the two?
It is my opinion that the best we can hope for is grace and mercy.
The reason this tension has always been there, and always will be, is because people are naturally wired to be on one side or the other. You could put Male vs. Female right under that list and it would fit perfectly. Conservative vs. Liberal would fit too.
This is how people naturally divide. And, quite frankly, there’s nothing wrong with either side. Male and Female are both created in God’s image.
The problem, and consequent division, arises when we go to one side at the expense of the other. We flip to extremes. You can value the Bible so much that you lose feeling and compassion, and simply bash people over the head with your doctrinal muscle. Pushing against this leads people to overemphasize the Spirit, which often leads to claiming the Bible is not inspired, the heart will guide us, and people begin thinking they are divinely inspired leading to all manner of goofy.
Denominations are created to defend one side of the argument. I’ve often wondered if denominations aren’t just people getting together who have the same spiritual gifts.
This sort of division, splitting down the middle, one half going Right and one half going Left, is not working. Picking one side doesn’t work.
The only solution is to graciously deal with one another. Find value in both sides. Rather than picking one side at the expense of the other, know that we need both sides. Solomon also told us that for everything there is a season. It’s not always a time for war, nor is it always a time for peace. Sometimes war is what’s needed, sometimes peace is.
There is no middle road. Instead there’s a narrow way, the way of faith. Faith considers each situation and figures out how the Spirit leads in applying God’s Word. Sometimes we do need more emotion and less academic. And sometimes we need more academic and less emotion.
Being Emotion all the time will ruin you and your church. Being Academic all the time will ruin you and your church. If you give each side their due place, you will tick off everyone. People want Their Way all the time.
Life is complicated. Faith figures stuff out by the church together watching, praying, meditating, thinking, reasoning, and acting in compassionate love.
Love is the defining character of all who follow Christ. Show each other the grace and mercy Christ showed you. Be gentle with each other. Be gracious and patient. Give each other a break. The Church needs you to do this.