As I mentioned in a previous post (“Unity: The Series“), this week I’m writing a series on the topic of unity among the body of Christ. I suggested that we are united in Christ, but we are not generally living in that unity (“We ARE united, but we are NOT united“). Yesterday, I wrote that humility is the work of unity (“Doing the work of unity“). Now, remember, I am talking about unity among those who are in Christ, who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, who are followers of Jesus Christ, who are children of God. This is the beginning point of my series. Throughout the series, you can assume that these are the people that I am talking about.
So, if humility is the work of unity, then what is the work of division? In other words, what results in failure to maintain the unity of the Spirit (as Paul exhorted his readers in Ephesians 4:2)?
Well, before I jump into that question – with what will be an obvious answer – I want to point out how important this issue is to the body of Christ. Yes, there are many, many examples in Scripture of exhortations toward unity. And, there are many exhortations against divisiveness and divisive people. Here is one example:
As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11 ESV)
In the verse before that warning, Paul even gives some examples of these people who “stir up division”:
But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. (Titus 3:9 ESV)
What makes these issues foolish and divisive? Because the people involved are putting themselves, their interests, their understandings above the health, benefit, and edification of their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Today, few people argue and divide about genealogies. But what about certain types of teachings (baptism, spiritual gifts, gender roles, the church, leadership, end times) or experiences (speaking in tongues, baptism again, etc.)? If we separate from brothers and sisters in Christ over arguments related to these and other issues, then we are not living in the humility, peace, and love of Jesus Christ. Instead, we are doing the work of division.
Often, the divisions are subtle and accepted (even praised), such as dividing over meeting locations, leaders, denominations, or organizational issues. If two believers live side by side and yet never relate with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ because they belong to different “local churches,” then one or more of them are doing the work of division.
If we look at the way followers of Jesus Christ live today, it is clear that we are generally more involved in the work of division than in the work of unity. So, how do we move toward the work of unity and leave the work of division behind?
Series on Unity
- Unity: The Series
- We ARE united, but we are NOT united
- Doing the work of unity
- Doing the work of division
- Unity begins and ends in Jesus Christ