Divided

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:5-7

When I was in the 9th or 10th grade, I was the treasurer of my church’s youth group. We met once a month for a youth night and had a “business meeting” as well (we thought we were so grown up!).

fightBut at one point, we felt the need to appoint a “Sergeant at Arms” to keep the peace at our youth group meetings. This stemmed from an incident where we all got into a heated discussion about something (I forget what) and one kid got up, walked over to another kid, and punched him in the head!

Thankfully, soon after the “Sergeant at Arms” meeting, the cooler heads of the Pastor and some of the parents prevailed and we were all brought back down from the heightened feelings and emotions.

I wish I could say that this incident happened because we were immature kids.

But as a pastor, I’ve seen voter’s meetings and council meetings where adults – leaders in the church – have screamed at each other and nearly come to blows.

These kinds of things can come from immaturity, to be sure. But especially in the Church they happen because Satan is egging us on in our sinful human nature. He tries to divide God’s people.

Satan knows that if he can get the Church divided, then the proclamation of the Gospel is hindered and it will be that much easier for the lost to never hear of the life-giving Good News of Jesus Christ!

Jesus Christ established the Christian Church by sending his Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

But he didn’t make the members of his church perfect. He didn’t make the members of his church immune to the temptations of the world, the devil and our own sinful flesh.

The Christian Church has a formidable enemy in Satan and has been fighting battles against him ever since that first Pentecost.

But sometimes our worst enemy is ourselves! When we give in to our sinful human nature to attack each other, or worse, stop talking to each other and stop fellowshipping with each other, then Satan wins more and more battles.

What we have to do is recognize that when we, who are Christians, have negative or hurt feelings towards each other, this is an attack from Satan!

When I’m upset or angry with a fellow member of the Church, I need to stop and ask myself, “Who most benefits from my being angry? Who would be most interested in dividing me from this other Christian or group of Christians?”

The answer is, “Satan!”

After the Holy Spirit calms me down – and holds my hands so they don’t type messages on Facebook or other social media! – I pray to God that he forgives my anger and all other sins and restores me to my brother or sister who I am upset with.

That way we can continue to work together to build each other up, encourage each other, and together tell the Good News about Jesus!

I need to continually be reminded by St. Paul – in the Epistle to the Romans especially –  that there are strong and weak among the members of the Christian Church and that we all should follow Christ’s example of accepting and striving to please others.

I need to be reminded especially that despite my sin and weakness, Christ bore the punishment my sins deserve and welcomes me into God’s family!

Dear Father, lead me into Your Word, where I receive endurance, encouragement, and hope from You. Empower me then to welcome others, especially those weak in faith. Amen. (Prayer from the notes on Romans 15:1-7 in the Lutheran Study Bible, © Concordia Publishing House 2009, p 1939)

©2017 True Men Ministries

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