Dissonance

The most precious thing on earth must be the church, for Jesus bought it at an historically high cost, his blood. We wear his name, bear his likeness, and live to honor him alone. Which is why division in the church is so baffling. What principle was so high, so unyielding, that the church could justifiably be split? What issue of eternal consequence was so great that Christians would have to leave? Most importantly, what does division do to a church?
It presents a divided message to the community. It teaches our young people that their brethren are expendable. If we don’t get our way, we can just “ditch” them and go our own way. It teaches that forgiveness is unnecessary.
It allows those who don’t want to repent to jump ship rather than change. It disillusions the weak. They see the rancor and simply give up Christianity altogether.
It discourages God’s servants, those who remain to preach, teach, shepherd and serve. The load on them is heavier now, and the knowledge that they supposedly “failed” those who left leaves them wondering if their service for the Lord was worthwhile.
It almost always places the blame on the wrong people. Those who remain, those who continue to lead and teach and work are the ones at fault. “We” who left, who divided the church, were the truly “spiritual ones,” you see.
Scripture teaches against dividing God’s people, not once, not twice, but time and time again. Nothing could be clearer. In God’s eyes, his people are precious, his church blood bought, his body inviolable.
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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3 thoughts on “Dissonance

  1. The article “Dissonance” is an excellent article with but one exception. There are times, sadly, when one must separate from a brother over the matter of sin. I served a congregation for 17 years and was fired because there were those in the congregation who were actively sinning and refused to repent. Four other families left for the same reason. We exhausted every Biblical means to close this breach but were unsuccessful. We worshipped with another congregation for a year (35 miles distant) and then started a new congregation in a different part of the county. We would welcome fellowship predicated upon repentance with our brethren but, so far, they have ignored our overtures. Is the church divided in this case? Yes! Is there a Biblical reason? Yes! I am not criticising the article only asking that you expand your thinking a little.
    His servant and yours,
    Smitty

  2. Dear “Smitty”,
    I appreciate your comments. Anyone who has done church work has had to face the issues about which you spoke. I wrote from the perspective of a church leader who was stung by the critizisms of critics as they walked out the door, so to speak, uaually in the form of thoughtless cheap shots. I am not arguing that there is never a time when one must (in great sadness), leave a congregation, only that it must be done after great deliberation. It sounds as if, in your case, you did this. I pray that you will begin to heal from the inevitable hurt that comes with this.
    God’s richest blessings,
    Stan Mitchell

  3. Dear Stan:
    Thanks for your understanding. As we say in the South, “I’d rather have a sharp stick in the eyeball than go through that.” I’ve read two books that were beneficial to me. While I do not endorse every idea put forth they are valuable works:
    Koinonia – Jimmy Jividen (Gospel Advocate)
    We Be Brethren – J.D. Thomas (Biblical Research Press).
    His servant and yours,
    Smitty

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