Note: This is a follow-up to a previous post. I am thankful that I now serve a church that has been known for being a harmonious, peaceful, and loving congregation (Huffman Baptist Church). This is not to say there haven’t been difficulties, they just handle them in a manner that honors God and doesn’t cause division among God’s people. That is not the case in all churches.
While it is God’s will that His people live in harmony, peace, and unity… there are times that doesn’t happen. Consider what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:17-20…
But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.
Interesting indeed! “There MUST be factions among you…” Why? So that those who are genuine are recognized. Which by implication means that those who are NOT genuine are also recognized… exposed… shown to all. When a church… any church… has disharmony, disunity, or division… Satan has somehow wormed his way into the congregation. The reason I say that is because “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33). Therefore if/when the peace of a congregation is lost, it isn’t because of God!
How are those who are not genuine identified? Let me suggest a few things (Those who are genuine have the opposite of these true in their life)…
They are more concerned with getting their way than protecting the reputation of God, the Faith, and congregation.
They are more concerned with getting their way than doing what is best for the good of the church as a whole.
They have an attitude of anger, condemnation, and threats rather than humility and grace.
They spread rumors and gossip that undermines the good name of church leaders. a
They threaten to… Not give financially to the church, OR move their membership, OR take it to the floor of the church for a vote, OR many other things to get their way.
They do not listen to explanations, reasons, or try discover truth… all they want is is their way regardless of the effect on the church.
And here’s the big one: They are not willing to forgive if/when a person (Deacon, committee Member, Church Member, Ministerial Staff Member) has made a mistake. They want them punished… removed… or disciplined harshly. Along with their unwillingness to forgive, they are unwilling to reconcile with those who may have made a mistake…. which is in direct contradiction to Scripture.
No church is perfect. However, when there is conflict “those who are genuine” are know by their determination to follow the Scripture in dealing with it. Sadly… too many churches today don’t follow God’s outline for dealing with conflict. I am thankful that I serve a congregation that has a history of honoring God in this area.