Back in the fall of 1979, when I was a sophomore and dating my husband, a young minister whom we knew asked us if we would be willing to volunteer to come to his church and help out. The church, back in the hills of Tennessee, had eight people, who other than one person, were elderly. Most of those people were not in the best of health either.The pastor and the congregation were African-American. My husband and I were white.
Several times a week, we'd drive 20 miles through the mountains to that little one room church with the tin roof and no indoor plumbing. Despite that, the little congregation thrived and by that spring about 40 people were attending regularly.
I remember once that we made the suggestion that since there was another church of our denomination in the community which was quite small as well, perhaps we should join together at times for fellowship, outreach and other such things. There was dead silence and then we were gently told that could not happen because you see... the other church was white. It is bad enough when this sort of division happens within society but it is even worse when we are doing it to ourselves!
I have to tell you, I was not only stunned by this . I was greatly saddened. Yes, God can certainly use small churches. Until nearly five years ago, I always attended small churches so I know and love them. However, there is also great power in coming together and pooling our resources! But there was more to this than simply outreach. It illustrated for me the great division there often is within the Body of Christ.
Can you imagine what it would be like to reach over and try to pick up an item only to have your arm, hand and fingers refuse to work in conjunction with one another? What a terrible situation that would be and yet, that is often how we are functioning within the Body of Christ. We become so busy fighting amongst ourselves that we forget what we are called to do. We are not called to get in theological arguments with one another. We are called to witnesses of Jesus Christ in this world!
All around us people are hungry . They are hungry and we have the Bread of Life! Are we passing it out to them? No, we are too busy arguing about what day Jesus died on, whether or not we should go to church on Saturday or Sunday, whether we re saved if we don t attend a local church because we haven t found one where the Truth is being preached, whether or not only some people can be saved, to speak in tongues or not speak in tongues, etc. We claim that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and yet when the world looks at us, they don t see peace... they see discord!
Am I suggesting that we are to be silent when confronted by doctrine which is contrary to God s Word? No. What I am suggesting, however, is choose your battles. Jesus did. In the Gospels we have situations where Jesus simply did not respond or if He did, it was to ask the inquirer a question of His own by which they got their answer. Why? Because Jesus knew perfectly well when people were trying to argue just for the sake of arguing and He wanted nothing to do with that.This sort of behavior also plagued the early Church. Paul addresses this topic in the Romans 14.
Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.
Romans 14:12-13 (NLT)