SIX WAYS TO STOP DIVISION
by Dan Goddard
1. Don’t side with the cliques. When it is evident that there are warring cliques in the church, the Christian should be careful not to take sides. He should rather oppose sects, parties, and factions in the church (Galatians ; I Corinthians 3:3), and should teach against gossip, backbiting, and evil speaking (2 Corinthians ; Ephesians ). Such teaching believed and obeyed will dissolve the cliques.
2. Don’t judge another’s heart. Christians should be careful not to attribute evil motives to the words and actions of others. “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). If we hear or witness some unseemly thing done by a brother, instead of being quick and harsh in our judgment, we should give him the benefit of the doubt. “. ..Love thinks no evil” (I Corinthians 13:5). Some things are to be labeled as “unwise,” but not as “sin.”
3. Don’t bind your convictions on others. What may be a matter of doctrine to one might be a matter of opinion to another. The weak brother in Romans 14 believed that he should eat only herbs; it was a “matter of faith” to him (Romans 14:2). Paul showed in Romans 14 (also in I Corinthians 8 and 10) that in such matters, one is not to bind his personal convictions on others. Furthermore, one brother may be convinced that another brother sinned in a particular action and needs to repent. However, that brother might be equally convinced that he has not sinned. One should not bind his own conscience on other.
4. Don’t build up a faction. On any given controversy or issue in the local church, as you have opportunity state your conviction, but don’t be trying to build up your side by going from house to house or by calling on the phone. Working in secrecy is the tactic of the evil man (Psalm 101:5; 2 Peter 2:1). It puts those who differ at an unfair disadvantage because it does not give equal time and opportunity. It is not practicing the golden rule (Matthew ). Likewise, one has no right to take the problems of one church to another. This destroys God’s plan for independence and autonomy. It is foolish for outsiders to meddle in strife that doesn’t belong to them (Proverbs 26:17).
5. Try to hold it together. All Christians should try to keep the church together and not pull it apart. Instead of leaving and pulling off a group, members of the church should stay together and reconcile their differences. “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans ). There is no such thing as a perfect church and the Lord expects Christians to stay together and work out their problems.
6. Withdraw from the factious. “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus -11). “A factious man after a first and second admonition refuse...” (Titus ASV). “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease” (Proverbs ). Within time, the righteous will know who the real troublemakers are. They must be withdrawn from.