Monday, June 23, 2008

Make Us One

After hearing Craig Groeschel speak about his one prayer for unity in the church this weekend at Southbrook, I wanted to blog after a month + long hiatus. In fact I have been and I continue to be so busy that I decided to "borrow" a unity related article I found on the internet as the post for the month. Enjoy!

Proverbs 6:16-19 says,
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush to evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers

Let me comment on this proverb. It is striking to me that if I were going to make a statement like the one he makes, I am not sure I would have chosen exactly this list. Granted, it makes sense that he began with haughty eyes, because we all know that is one of the most detestable and ridiculous sins. But the one that really surprised me was the last one: “one who stirs up dissension among brothers.” I think as Christians we are very quick to recognize the sins of others and point them out, and yet this is one we can fall prey to easily because the tongue is so difficult to control. We may not always have a lying tongue, but we are pretty good at stirring up dissension among brothers. And that is the seventh, and in a sense, the ultimate thing that is detestable to the Lord. The list begins with pride and ends with dissension. In some of Paul’s lists of heinous sins—drunkenness, orgies, etc.—right there in the middle of the list is dissension. I would encourage you to reflect on this. There are of course other sins that the Lord finds detestable, and yet these are listed for a purpose. This is a sampling, and that one surprised me. We should pray that God would enable us to be those who, by God’s grace, control our tongues. This is especially necessary in the church. Christ is directing the church in the way He wants her to go. But He has appointed human beings, His servants, through whom He has chosen to lead His church. That is, the leadership of a particular church. It is very tempting for us to want to help lead. Now good leaders are delighted if you are consulting the Scripture and making suggestions in a constructive way. That is good. It is our responsibility as Christians to do so. But it is not our responsibility to try to take control where it is not our place to do so. Sometimes there are power struggles in a church that lead to dissension and belie what Jesus said: “They will know we are Christians by our love.” So give attention to the prevention of dissension and recognize that God has appointed these people who lead us. Pray for them, be diligent readers of Scripture, and make suggestions. If you read Scripture and conclude your church is going in the wrong direction, then you can try to earn the right to lead. You may perhaps need to join a different church. But you do not want to conduct a mutiny. What is detestable to God is dissension and discord.

Reference: Summer 2006, V. Philips Long & Covenant Theological Seminary