by Stan Mitchell

The most precious thing on earth must be the church, for Jesus bought it at an historically high price, 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?

I acknowledge that there are times when we must, with sadness, leave a congregation of God’s people, but I submit we should do that only after ascertaining that this is the only option left to us. I wonder, even then, if we must cast aspersions so casually over our shoulder as we leave.

Division 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.

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16, ESV).

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