Summary: Too many churches are caught up in conflict because they've forgotten who is truly the enemy. How do we prevent conflict from ruling the church? Choose the correct weapons! Check out these thoughts from Scott Jewell, our Family Minister.
Thom Rainer of Lifeway Christian Resources wrote a blog article in which he compiled a list of 25 odd church arguments. I narrowed it down to 10, including a couple I’ve heard previously. (I’ve included a brief describer with color commentary for each).
1. color of roof shingles- sit under their own color
2. what kind of carpet- is flying an option?
3. chairs or pews- one person declared they’d buy chairs when God told them to buy chairs
4. allow people to wear black t-shirts, since black is the color of the devil- thought it was red
5. if a clock in the worship center should be removed- was a rather time-consuming debate
6. which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer- who took the pictures- Lifetouch/Olan Mills
7. allow deviled eggs at the church meal- set them next to the angel food cake
8. should the worship leader have his shoes on during the service- no shoes/shirt/service
9. “potluck” instead of “pot blessing”- good thing we call them carry-ins
10. appropriate length of the associate minister’s beard- Terri (my wife) won this one
We laugh about these things- sadly, there are places where all of these have happened. Why?
They forgot who the enemy is and turned on each other. But Paul says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
How do we avoid making the same mistakes? We need to choose our weapons wisely. Paul wrote, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13)
Why would we need this armor of God? Paul describes the battlefield like this- “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Can you imagine being in a battle like this and choosing to not wear your armor? Suicide! I once found this prayer to be a great reminder of just how difficult the struggle can be.
Dear Lord, So far I've done alright. I haven't gossiped, haven't lost my temper, haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm glad about that. But in a few minutes, God, I'm going to get out of bed. And from then on, I'm going to need a lot more help.
The battle starts from the moment we get up until the time we fall asleep. As the great theologian MC Hammer once said- we’ve got to pray just to make it today! What’s our armor?
Belt of Truth
Why start with a belt? It’s not very large, doesn’t cover much area, didn’t even have one of those great big cowboy buckles like you could find at the fair last week.
This belt is truth- we live in a world that proclaims “There is no such thing as absolute truth.”
Look at that statement- in order to be right, it has to be true, if it is true, it has to be right
Jesus says- “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
How does having the truth help us?
Sets us free
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Weight of sin, bringing it to Jesus releases us from that guilt
“Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Allows us to be prepared
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action (girding up the loins of your mind), and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13)
The belt holds everything in place so that one can move quickly while securing weapon
Police chasing thug who forgot to wear a belt
Guides us into safe paths
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Having the truth helps us see the way and avoid dangerous cliffs
Breastplate of Righteousness
Breastplate protects the vital organs
So it is with righteousness
“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12)
The devil would like nothing better to see God’s people fall
How quick the world is to point out failures
Bring every thought into captivity to obedience of Christ
Shoes of Readiness Given by the Gospel of Peace