“So the crowd was divided about Him.” (John 7:43 NLT)
Having pastored mostly small churches, I understand disagreement and division. It’s hard to keep a “ship” on course when you can’t agree on its destination. Whatever measure of success I had in helping churches to grow was rooted in two things. First, keeping their attention riveted on reaching the lost in their spheres of influence and in our community.
The second critical factor was Discipleship, which is essentially teaching those in the church and those newly converted, what it means to walk with Jesus. When someone is focused on Jesus and learning to more effectively follow and grow in Him, they’re much less focused on trivial issues which can cause division in the church.
The times in which we live, on many levels, are unprecedented. Obviously, we are closer to the return of our Savior than we’ve ever been, but the “signs of the times” are pointing to His soon return on a much larger scale than ever before. Satan’s strategy is still the same, but he seems to be having greater success, which is exactly what the Bible teaches.
Jesus asked a very frightening question in Luke 12:51-52: “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against – or two in favor and three against.”
What’s He talking about? Would He intentionally divide families against one another? His “vision of division” is pointing to end times. Yes, of course, He died to bring forgiveness of sin and peace and harmony in our walk with Him, but by virtue of that decision, it automatically will divide us from others who don’t believe, and, yes, sometimes that includes family members. What’s my point?
In the church we’re supposed to be made up of kindred spirits who are all seeking to live at peace with God and in harmony with one another, but, ideally, we’re constantly bringing new people into the fellowship. Some are saved and some are not; some have history with the church, and some do not; some are walking by faith and some are only pretending, with the bottom line, it is a seedbed for chronic division.
Satan’s plan is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10) and a primary tool he uses is discouragement and dissatisfaction – with the pastor, with another person in the church, with a decision the board made, because my Sunday School teacher doesn’t like me, because ________ and you can fill in the blank.
We get enmeshed in minutia and lose sight of why we exist as a body of believers. We wrongly assume that the church exists to meet “my needs,” forgetting that we exist to honor and serve our Master. And, yes, I understand that any pastor or leader will rarely, if ever, get everyone on board with reaching their community. But gratefully, the Lord will begin with one person if need be. But it begins with prayer.
What if you began to pray and trust the Lord to give you a burden for your family, your neighborhood, the neighborhood around your church? What if you decided to walk the streets of your city praying and asking the Lord to open your heart to those around you who are without the Lord? What if you began by extending an invitation to 3-5 people to come to your house or meet at a restaurant for coffee, just to get acquainted.
Start small and build slowly but START! Be the catalyst of growth and devotion to Jesus in your family and in your church. The church I now attend and in which I serve, a church that is reaching thousands in our city, began with a prayer by one lady to bring a church to her city with a heart for the lost.
You want to start a revival in your church and city? Why not get on your knees and beg God to use you to get one started? Then ask Him to give you a heart for your neighbors. And know this – He will!
Food for thought.
Blessings, Ed 😊