Why do we yet have contention in the church after two millennia?
Acts 11:2 – And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,
Oh, horror of horrors! Peter, one who might have been considered the very chiefest of apostles, had gone AMONG the Gentiles, and what was worse, had ministered TO them and dined WITH them. Oh, the power of prepositions in the arena of contentions. What had happened, the carrying forth of ministry, the saving of souls, the growing of the body of Christ, the outreach of the church, and the infilling of new believers with Holy Ghost and fire was secondary to our list of prepositions. What was being perpetrated instead of obedience to the Lord’s command to “go into ALL THE WORLD,” to “preach the Gospel to EVERY CREATURE” was the early invasion of the devil to weaken the church through strife.
Dear reader, the names of the characters have changed, certain nomenclature has changed, and the times have certainly changed, but we still have that same spirit operating within the church. It may be shaved or bearded, coiffed or bald, suited or jeaned, hand-held, lavalier, or headset amplified, but it is still the same spirit of contention that roams so freely in the church today. For Peter, it was his ministry to the Gentiles. For Pentecostals, it is their crossing denominational lines to dear Baptist brethren. For the many of the younger generation, it is their tattoos, hair (or lack of it), and jeans that many traditionalists fight against so adamantly. And all this still runs rampant in our ministries after decades of battles that have crossed ethno-racial boundaries, music styles (still a thorn in the flesh of many), and technology (that many still attack) barriers. What must we do to overcome this contention?
The answer is really simple. Walk in love; keep God’s commandments; obey the Word of God (all three of these is the same thing – just different terminologies). Let’s keep the main thing the main thing. The main thing for the five-fold ministry (where the chiefest responsibility lies) is the perfecting of the saints. Teach the Word and stress obedience, for obedience is better than sacrifice. Obedience IS the love walk by which faith works at its highest. The main thing for the church-at-large is taking the gospel to every nation, tribe, kindred, tongue, and people. With billions who have still not heard a truthful witness of the Gospel, does anyone have the right to hear that Gospel twice until everyone has heard it once? No! Don’t stop witnessing to your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family, but don’t limit your witness to those groups. What about the strangers. “Gentiles” still exist, only we should today perhaps consider them to be the lost. Do not allow contention to establish barriers. Do not allow denominations to build boundaries. Let NOTHING stop us from preaching the Gospel, teaching the Word, and being effective witnesses of the love, life, light, liberty, and power of our Lord.
Manna for Today – Acts 11:1-18: Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Matthew 24:1-14; Amos 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:24-26