Living in peace within the Church … easier said than done

Have you ever thought about what life would be like if your body tried to destroy itself? I’ve met some people with diseases that do that, where one part of their body tries to destroy another part of their body. Their whole body is basically at war with itself. It’s a terrible way to live, knowing your own body is incapable of living in harmony with itself.

That’s what I thought about when I read today’s verse, Colossians 3:15.

15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

As members of one body, we are called to live in peace. Read that again.

The Church is often called the Body of Christ, and all of us who are believers are a part of the Church. That makes all of us who believe in Christ part of the Body of Christ. One body. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

But oftentimes we live as though we are one of the people with a body-killing disease, where one member of the body is trying to destroy another member of the body. And that’s not healthy. It’s not helpful either.

Churches seem dead set on tearing each other down in today’s world. One church is bigger and better than another one. Another church is smaller and better. Another church is less ornate. Another church is more ornate. Another church has better music. Another church has no music. And it goes on and on and on, and we become consumed with judging each other.

That’s not what we’re here to do.

As members of one body, we are called to live in peace.

But anyone who is a believer knows that there is nothing harder than learning to agree to disagree with another Christian. There’s something grating about having to leave the minor issues to God and focus on the major issues, because it’s the tiny rocks in your shoes that are more annoying than the big one that hits your head. But many times, that’s what we have to do. Because God deals with different people in different ways. No one is in the same place as everyone else.

Obviously, God saves us all the same way. But we are all in different places in our individual walks, and no one will agree completely on every single subject in Scripture. And at that point when you reach a disagreement with a fellow believer, what do you do?

Do you tear each other down? Do you break your friendship? Do you walk away?

You can. But what good will that do either of you?

At that point, you have a choice. You can choose to walk away or you can choose to peacefully coexist.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is peace. Peace isn’t something that just happens, though. It’s something that comes from God, and we have to let it. We have to allow God’s peace to “rule in our hearts.” It’s a choice. To keep our mouths shut.

It’s the same with a church. Churches who preach the truth of the Scripture are supposed to support each other, not tear each other down. There are so many churches — just in Wichita — that preach the Truth, but because they disagree on minor issues, they hate each other. The whole denomination fiasco has done more harm within the church than almost anything else. People define themselves by their denomination instead of by Scripture. There are no Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists or any other -ists or -ics in the Bible. There are just people who follow Christ and people who don’t.

Now am I saying that the Church (and I mean those who believe in Christ and the Bible) need to support other churches that don’t? No.

Church means the people who follow Christ. So that doesn’t mean that the Church needs to go out and support other “churches” that are proliferating error and falsehoods about Scripture.

However, the Church does need to seek them and welcome them.

But I’m not talking about churches that don’t preach Truth. There’s enough conflict between the members of the actual Church. And there shouldn’t be. As members of one body, we are called to live in peace, and as followers of Christ, we all have access to God’s peace. We just have to allow it to rule in our hearts, which means we listen and obey the Spirit’s leading instead of our own pride.

Whenever I hear other Christians speaking badly of another Bible-preaching church, I always think of Luke 9:50. Where the Disciples saw someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name and told him to stop. Why? Because he was doing it wrong? Because he wasn’t being successful? Or because he was taking credit for it?

No. The Disciples told him to stop because “he wasn’t part of their group.”

And Jesus’ response has always fascinated me.

 50 But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.”

Fellow members of the Body of Christ, remember this. If you have a problem with another Bible-preaching church and they are reaching their community in a way that no one else can, stop speaking ill of them. Don’t try to stop them, and don’t try to discourage them.

If they’re not against us, they’re for us. We’re all on the same side. Especially now as the night is nearly over and the day is coming when Christ will return, we need all the help we can get to reach a world that still doesn’t believe. And you never know if some other church may be positioned better to reach the people you can’t.

Let God’s peace rule in your life. Live at peace with other believers. And don’t let the minor issues between you cause the Body of Christ to fail.