I was diagnosed years ago with “undifferentiated autoimmune disorder." Before that, I had severe pain that defied explanation. Doctors considered a diagnosis of lupus at one point. I developed osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and palmo-plantar psoriasis. Joint deterioration made normal activity difficult. On top of that, my body’s immune system attacked and destroyed my hair.
I’m sure you can imagine that autoimmune disease is no picnic, but the crazy part is that it’s my own body that does all this to itself. Normal defenses switched into high gear, but not against injuries and infections. My body, and those of all other autoimmune sufferers, fights and destroys itself.
Why would I tell you all this? I’d like you to understand the unnecessary discomfort and trouble of such a situation, as well as the time, productivity, and money wasted through years combating these issues. But mostly I want you to see what you and I are doing to Jesus when we fight against other Christians.
Yes, Jesus is the head of the church, and we make up the body. When we help other Christians, the body of Christ operates rather smoothly. But I’m sorry to say I have not always done that. I’ve engaged in competition against others rather than praying for them. Years ago, I really thought there was only one denomination speaking the truth: mine. How people find Jesus is very important to us personally, and we think everybody has to get saved the way we did or somehow it’s not real. So in our zeal for Christ, we want everyone to follow what worked for us. And I’m afraid we often hold the opinion that others are wrong since they are a bit different.
But that’s not the worst. Moses led an unwieldy group of murmurers and complainers from Egypt to the Promised Land. But that task might seem like child’s play to many pastors today dealing with fault-finding congregations. In some groups, the person who loves Jesus and takes on some type of leadership or service role sets himself up for vile criticism from some of the rest.
And then there’s jealousy—what a hideous monster to allow in church. Yesterday I heard about a man stirring up trouble because modern musicians and songwriters sometimes get paid big bucks. I wish he knew all the expenses they have to pay out of pocket and the years of dedicated, unpaid service it takes to get a song on the air.
But I digress. Jesus prayed we would be one as he and the Father are one. May I suggest we examine our own hearts before slicing and dicing someone’s ministry? Can we just pray for those we disagree with? If their doctrine is wrong, God will bring light to them. And as we pray, he might just reveal some truth to us. He never asked us to be in unity of doctrine, but to be in the unity of the Spirit.
If we show love for one another, the world will see Jesus. Seeing him, they will desire him. It breaks my heart that so many are headed for never-ending eternity devoid of love, hope, and comfort. It doesn’t have to be that way. The body of Christ – you and I—could represent Jesus to this lost world. We could bring answers they desperately need and save them from hell. We could re-present the Son of God to a generation without hope and living in fear. But biting and devouring one another is not the way.
Linda House is a member of New Life Worship Center.