Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. ~Acts 15:37-40 NKJV
We all have our differences of opinion among ourselves. Sadly, though, we tend to cut off those from our friendship list when there is a great difference of opinion or a grand argument where there is no resolution. This, also, is what causes many of the needless splits within the church families throughout the world. Quite honestly most of the disagreements between members are based upon “I’m right and you are wrong!” mentalities. This is quite an anti-biblical teaching. Sadly, we are willing to tear apart the church family in order to get our way and quite potentially destroy the church in the process.
We are willing to scream and shout at our brothers and sisters in Christ to be heard. And if that doesn’t get us our way, we will stomp our feet, hold our breath, and walk out the door…along with several other members and start another church.
Personally, I believe it stirs up a healthy dialogue when you raise such questions of foundations, tenets, doctrine and dogma. It allow us a venue to share our beliefs, our understanding of the scripture, and generally help us grow and people and as children of Christ. We MUST be willing to stand up for what we believe is right, especially for the word of God and get things clarified. I also believe at times it is healthy for a church to split. Splitting does two things: 1. makes room for more people (new congregants) and 2. it has a tendency to shake up the church leadership a little. Sometimes, not quite enough.
Let us get something straight (this being my opinion and my understanding), and this is one of those things that is a bit twisted, the church is the people, the Pastor is the shepherd over the flock (or teacher), and the deacons, as well as, others are to help serve the people in order to free up that time the pastors use to use serving the people in between teaching the congregation. (The Book of Acts was written about 63 A.D. or later.)
Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”~Acts 6:2-4 NKJV
However, in corporate America…the Deacon Board is the CEO board and the Pastor is an employee who is hired by the Deacon board. It may not seem that way, but in reality…that is the corporate structure under any particular state’s laws. But I digress…anyhoo…
Differences of opinion can be healthy if approached correctly. Sometimes as a congregation grows things need to be revisited, reassessed, revised, and possibly re-explained. After all, God wants us to be of one mind.
Be of the same mind toward one another. ~Romans 12:16 NKJV
And if we are of a similar mind, our guidance remains the same, despite our personal understandings and interpretations of the tenets and doctrines of the bible, or church for that matter. However, in my humble opinion, the church doctrine should directly correlate to the Biblical Doctrines taught. And personal spins on such should be met with challenges from the people. If either the church is wrong or if the challenging member(s) is/are wrong…each one should be able to argue their point and position.
Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. ~2 Timothy 4:11
Although, at some point in time, Paul settled his disagreement with John Mark. (The Book of 2 Timothy was written between 66-67 A.D.) It only took 4 years or less to do so. But this is what must be done. We as the body of Christ and as the church, as a whole, are to be reconciled to one another through Jesus Christ! We are one body, whether you like it or not; unfortunately, we do not act as such! Reconciliation is a gift of God in order for us to act according to God’s will and that we may, and should, act as ambassadors for Christ.
When you see someone from another congregation or another church…do you see a brother or sister in Christ, or do you see a heathen or sinner? Which do you see? What runs through your mind? Are they only saved if they go to your church? Are they only saved if they believe as you believe? Now, don’t get me wrong – there are “churches” that claim to be of God and Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, but do teach some things that do not coincide with what the scriptures blatantly state.
Even the lost, in a manner of speaking, are brothers and sisters. Because if you get right down to it we can all be traced back to the survivors of the flood (Noah) and by him back to Adam and Eve. Remember that we all need to be good ambassadors for Christ and the Kingdom of God! Therefore, we do need to act accordingly and we need to steer those we come in contact with toward Christ as their Savior. In so doing we increase to numbers for the Kingdom of God. In so doing, that becomes another opportunity for the Holy Spirit to act upon the hearts of other men and women in order to change their lives. It is the Spirit of God who actually makes all the changes in the lives of others for their Salvation.
Remember You Are An Ambassador for Christ! You can help guide them to salvation or you can aid them and build them up in the body of Christ!
May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!
MK Murphy, PhD, DD