Build Bridges for Unity! Don’t Divide!

In my Bible reading today, i stumbled over the following two passages:

  • Proverbs 21:11 (HCSB) When a mocker is punished, the inexperienced become wiser; when one teaches a wise man, he acquires knowledge.
  • Proverbs 21:24 (HCSB) The proud and arrogant person, named “Mocker,” acts with excessive pride.

And it caused me to introspect: “Am i a mocker? Do i act with pride? Do i need to be punished for anything? Or am i a wise man who accepts teaching and gets knowledge?”

It also brought two other passages to mind, both of which i daily pray would not be true of me. First, is Proverbs 6:16-19, where Solomon wisely states,

The LORD hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to Him:  arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers. (emphasis added).

If my God hates these seven things, then i must flee from them as far as possible. It’s why i pray that everything i do and say would not seek to promote me or any other human being, but rather would seek to elevate Christ as more valuable than anything else in the world. In addition, a person who causes trouble among brothers is the definition of a heretic. I don’t want that to be me. So whatever i post i strive to let it be the Scripture speaking and not my feelings. I strive in everything i preach to let it be the Scripture speaking and not my mouth. I strive in everything i write to let it be the Scripture speaking and not my brain.

The sad part is that sometimes people take offense to the plain reading of the Word of God. It breaks them out of their comfort zone. It causes them to throw around accusations of divisiveness. It causes them to disrupt the love and unity centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ that people are striving to promote. This brings me deep sadness when it is done in response to something i write. It absolutely crushes me that people miss the heart of what i’m trying to get across, and major on the minors, and publicly discredit all that i write.

The first time Proverbs 6:16-19 came to mind as things i need to pray against was when i was prayerfully considering leaving a church because of spiritually abusive counseling sessions that were gospel deficient. Since then, my prayer has been that i would not do something that causes divisions among brothers. In the instance above, the only people that ended up divided over it were myself from the rest of the church, and i spent 2 years trying, in vain, to reunite with the people there. I would never seek to draw people away from their churches to follow me. I repeatedly plead with people to find a church. In the four months i’ve had this blog, i have on four separate occasions told my readers that if they are not a part of a church, they need to find one: Speaking for the Voiceless, To the guy on the other side of the screen, To the girl on the other side of the screen, Across, Rocks, and the Cross – 4:1-5:1. There is no bone in my body that wants to commandeer a local church away from its leadership or see a local church lose people over frivolous things. If i can’t love God’s people, how can i claim to love God? I can’t.

But second, Titus 3:10-11 says, “Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned.” The word translated divisive there is actually the Greek word that reads in English font heretikos. Heretic.

This is a terrifying verse. It says that if a person persists in being divisive they are to be thrown out of the church. John MacArthur explains just what is meant by the word when he writes, “Eventually the term came to signify the placing of self-willed opinions above the truth, refusing even to consider views contrary to one’s own.” He goes on, “The [divisive person] will not submit to the Word or to godly leaders in the church. He is a law to himself and has no concern for spiritual truth or unity.” He goes on to explain that it refers not only to false teachers, but to “anyone in the church who is divisive and disruptive . . . The issues themselves may be trivial, but arguing about them is not.”[1]

Another Bible scholar explains, “The [heretic] is a person who holds sectarian opinions and promotes them in the church, causing dissension in the congregation.”[2] He goes on to note another commentator: “the sin is not the holding of false views but rather the breaking up of the congregation.”[3]

I don’t want to split any congregation. At the moment, i am not ready to be a pastor and i don’t want to be a pastor. But i can help people fix their eyes on Christ above all things. I live for that end. If it upsets people and causes them to call me divisive, then i do not apologize. As Martin Luther famously said, “Here I stand. I can do no other.”

However, with that said, i must go back to the opening verses in Proverbs. If i am teaching things that are clearly anti-scriptural, i want to be called out on it, and i want to be pointed to the Scripture that says otherwise. I am not above making a mistake, so please keep me honest by commenting in the comments section. However, if all a person can say is, “this is divisive,” or “this hurts my feelings,” or “I don’t like this,” then i don’t have any Biblical reason to retract what was said. Even if someone says, “this is not Scriptural,” but cannot give me a Scripture that says otherwise, then i have no reason to retract what was said. Again, please keep me honest. I desire to be teachable; i don’t want to be a mocker; i want to be wise; i don’t want to be prideful.

In closing, the following quote sums up the trouble with divisive people. “Divisions within the church result in believers who are confused, frustrated, angry, and hurt. They become ineffective in ministering to one another and to a lost world in desperate need of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the “good works” characteristic of genuine Christians.”[4] We must focus more on bearing with one another in love, serving the people under our care, and witnessing to the lost, than we do causing divisions, especially if no divisiveness was intended.

This is my goal: to build bridges over division. I’d rather create unity where none exists than destroy unity where it does exist. Will it be your goal too?

Soli Deo Gloria

Solus Christus

Sola Scriptura

 

[1] John MacArthur, Titus (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1996), 164.

[2] I. Howard Marshall, The Pastoral Epistles (London: T&T Clark, 1999), 337.

[3] Ibid., 339.

[4] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, New American Commentary – Volume 34: 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 326.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s