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Friday, April 30, 2010

Conflict in the Church

There are at least four listing of spiritual gifts in the Bible. Each of these are mentioned for specific reasons. One common theme is found in all of these lists: the gifts of the Spirit are to bring harmony to the Body of Christ which is the Church.

It is hard to find a church today without conflict. Is this because many of the people who comprise these churches are not acting within their spiritual gifts? Absolutely!

Often churches use the concept of family to describe their fellowship. Family comes from being brothers with Christ and having God as our Father. It does not describe the function of the members adequately. We all have family members who are disfunctional. We may still love them but they can cause a lot of chaos. They may cause conflict within our families but we generally ignore their tirades, their misguided personalities and their abuse. Sometimes we give them money to go away. They are our family members. We can't do anything about it.

The functional model of the Church, however,  is the body when the Bible mentions spiritual gifts. The body has many members. Each functions differently but must function for the body to be healthy. The lack of health in many churches can be directly tied to the number of members (body parts) which are either not functioning or functioning outside of their spiritual gifts.

Those who do nothing within the church have a spiritual paralysis. They are no more than spectators. They are along for the ride. They are like the limbs which have been paralyzed by a spinal injury. They are not getting the message though they may like being fed by the rest of the body. They are dead weight.

Those who are acting outside of their spiritual gifts are like cancer. They may do great works within the church but they do them our of their own abilities. They may do these works out of pride so that others will see them. They may do them to condemn others. They can point to themselves and look down on those who do less. They certainly castigate the dead weight of those who are doing nothing. They may be serving to get onto ruling committees and boards. Their service is merely a con to run the church. They look so much like a blessing when they come, are given places of responsibility and take over in a short span of time. They are like the Pharisees who want to be seen doing their good works, who look down on the rest of the people and want to be in charge of every meeting.

There are not a great number of these people in many churches. I have found that most churches only have five to ten people who will fit this category. They stir up others who will join them in conflicts. These are the mindless individuals who could not understand a spiritual concept if it were to hit them in the foreheads. Some of them are not believers. They became members by walking an aisle or going through a class because it was expected of them. They join the cancerous individuals because they can't see their lack of spiritual maturity.They treat the church like any other organization they have joined. They pay their dues and attend when they would like.They serve when they have to. They come to conflict meetings to keep the club just like it has always been.

The people who act within their spiritual gifts bring harmony to the body. They are busy and happy. They are working and enjoying what they are doing. They fail to criticize others because they are too busy doing what they are supposed to do to notice what others are not doing. They seek to help the body function properly. They are surprised by conflict. They know the purpose of the church without having a committee formed who will state it and put it on placards all over the church. They know they are supposed the worship the Savior, win the lost and work for the glory of God. They know that they need spiritual insight. They know they need to mature in their own faith. They are the diamonds which are rare but so incredibly valuable that the church's value grows all around them.

What can change this disfunction of the church? The Holy Spirit must. It is a spiritual problem and must be met on a spiritual plain. We need unsaved members to be saved. We need cancerous believers to repent and come humbly before the throne. We need leaders to accept their responsibility of bringing the church to unity. We need a return to biblical rather than political themes within the church. We need to cry out so diligently that the Lord will send the might Holy Spirit to cleanse us.

Otherwise, I think we will just have conflict within the Church.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

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