Summary: In this church age, when we are supposed to be adding and multiplying, we are subtracting and dividing.
Dividing Over Debatables
Sad Math: In this church age, when we are supposed to be adding and multiplying, we are subtracting and dividing. Disharmony among God’s people is at epidemic levels. We may have great unity at GBC, but most places are not so, and Satan has a plan to end it here as well. And this problem goes far beyond the local church. The bride of Christ, His Church, is made up of all believers everywhere. But we are disjointed and disconnected from one another. Sad.
Denominationalism is everywhere. And Baptists, which don’t consider themselves as part of a denomination, might as well be, and they split like none other. The world sees it, is confused, and the devil is happy.
This problem is not new. It is all thru your Bible, and church history A.D.
11 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.
12 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?
But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
Paul had the church read this letter publicly. Awkward!
Imagine if each week we stood and read lists such as:
Ushers/nursery workers who didn’t show up.
This week’s gossips.
Those behind a few weeks on tithe!
This age old problem is still with us today. We divide, and not over doctrine, but over debatables...gray areas. Things which the Scriptures aren’t dogmatic about.
v. 2 Eating meat was a debatable back then. It was likely offered to idols, and so was discounted [since idols don’t eat...you know, being dead and all]. Most of these folks were saved out of paganism.
Observing the Sabbath was another of their issues. Some continued that OT tradition and some believed Christ ended it.
v. 5 Sabbath.
ill.--The Civil War was the bloodiest in US history. And civil war is what Satan wants to initiate in the church.
When the world sees in-fighting, they laugh us off. We give them excuse not to believe.
Here’s topics of my lifetime:
Facial hair on men, striped or colored dress shirts, pants on women, going to a restaurant that has a bar, or a gas station which sells alcohol or cigarettes, hair blocked or tapered in the back, parting hair in the middle, going to a G rated movie, wearing your hat backwards, playing dominoes or cards, owning a TV, eating in a restaurant on Sunday, color of new carpet, hymns or choruses, pews or chairs, hold a microphone or put it on a stand. God help us!
I’ve been rejected by others for what version of the Bible I use or whether we would use a soundtrack in church.
And the devil laughs.
In Romans 14, the Holy Spirit nails it all to the wall.
We must learn how to develop our own personal convictions and then keep them as our own. We must stand for something or we’ll fall for anything. Your parents’ conviction isn’t enough. [Pastor’s either.] We need to be tolerant and loving to others who may differ with us.
We don’t all have to be clones in order to get along. We don’t need to be cookie cutter Christians. There’s strength in our diversity. Now there are a nucleus of beliefs, fundamentals of the faith, which we must center ourselves on. But we miss the mark when we take little preferences and convictions and decide to impose them on others.
How not to divide over debatables:
1. Consideration principle.
We must learn to be considerate to those we disagree with.
v. 1 "Receive" There are strong Christians and weak ones. All are to be received. Who is strong? Is it the one who refrains from the meat? In this context, actually, no. A strong Christian recognizes his liberty in Christ, and realizes God made all meat clean and a piece of wood or rock can’t change it. He isn’t enslaved to diets and rituals. A weak Christian looks to a list of rules in order to be spiritual. But both are to be received. Don’t make it a test of fellowship and distance yourself from them.
The exception is moral compromise. The Bible tells us to run from blatant sin, lest we be dragged into it. If a Christian slips into doctrinal compromise or immorality, get away from them. But be careful of the holier than thou attitude you can develop, and then start applying this to any minor disagreements too.