Over the past week I have been bombarded by well-meaning people saying that some of my posts have been divisive and have not encouraged unity in the Body of Christ. But is this true? Is speaking out about what one believes, when it goes against the majority, necessarily wrong? Let's examine this issue today.
Most of the Scripture verses regarding unity are like the following.
Romans 14:19 (KJV)
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
Paul was definitely urging the believers to live in peace with others. The verses right before this one highlighted differing ideas in the Church that were causing tensions among the believers. Even though these differing views existed they were to follow after things that made for peace and that edified one another.
Romans 12:18 (KJV)
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Again, Paul urged the believers to live at peace with others as much as they were able. These definitions of peace also speak to how kind we deal with other. Do we allow others to have their own opinions?
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 (KJV)
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
Someone from the house of Chloe had informed Paul that there were contentions among the believers in Corinth. Some were saying that they were in Paul's group, Apollos' group, Cephas' group, or in Christ's group. Paul concluded by asking the Corinthians if Christ was divided, if Paul had been crucified for them, or if they had been baptized in the name of Paul. He indeed begged the Corinthians not to have divisions.
From the information given in this section it is evident that the Corinthian Church was divided because some of the members were exalting human leaders above Jesus. They were focusing on the wrong things, such as eloquence in speaking or human wisdom. Paul took them to task because Jesus was the head of the Church and not these other men. They should have been unified.
The important phrase of this passage is in verse 10. "That ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." This is the determining factor in whether or not divisions are acceptable or not. Being human we can read Scripture until we are blue in the face and find that we disagree on various interpretations of the text. We no longer have the disciples as our physical teachers making sure that our doctrine remains pure. Consequently, we are not of the same mind or judgment. People have tried to say that having all of the denominations of Christianity that exist is an evidence of evil. But when there is disagreement on the essentials of the faith differences naturally exist and divisions occur. For example, if someone does not speak in tongues, he or she rightly will probably not attend a Pentecostal Church, or if one is a Calvinist, he or she will rightly not attend an Arminian Church. I believe that God has allowed this. Now, if a church is dividing over carpet color, or some other petty issue then that church is not living in unity.
But let's look again to the example of Jesus. Was He living in the kind of unity that the Church seems to call for today? Or was He divisive?
Matthew 15:1-3 (KJV)
Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
The religious leaders of Jesus' day found fault in Jesus' teaching. Was Jesus' response to acquiesce and be unified with the religious leaders? No, He called them out and informed them of what they were doing and why it was wrong.
How about Paul? In 1 Corinthians he urged unity, but was he always unified?
Galatians 2:11-13 (KJV)
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
When Peter came to Antioch he freely ate with the Gentiles, but when some Jewish believers from Jerusalem came, he separated himself and in so doing dragged Barnabas into the same behavior. Verse 11 says that Paul "withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." Paul spoke his mind to Peter and did not let something go because it could have been divisive.
When something is perceived as truth, really whether it is or not because we are fallible human beings, we must speak out. Even if division is caused we must speak out when we believe that other Christians are believing in an inaccurate Gospel.
This trend of false unity is rampant in the Church today. No one dares to speak out and the only message that is acceptable seems to be a watered down Gospel that only preaches a feel good message. If this trend continues we will assuredly find ourselves with a one-world religion, which is, in fact, predicted for the end times. It seems that Christians are playing into Satan's hand. The irony of the situation, however, is that in all of the cases where someone told me to stop being divisive and to be unified, they turned around and preached to me their point of view, or posted something that was offensive. Apparently, the only unity most people accept is unity that stems from everyone being in agreement with them! Go figure!
I have followed the example given by Jesus, Paul, Martin Luther, William Wilberforce, and many others who have gone against the grain, stood up for what was perceived as right based on my understanding of Scripture, and have suffered the backlash of many well-meaning people. It's time that we, as a Body of Christ, understand Scripture as much as we can, act accordingly, and leave false unity behind.