There Are More Important Things Than You!

A leader’s task within the Church is to guard doctrine (Titus 1:9).  Although there are other things they are responsible for, this task must be at the forefront.  Elders are described in Scripture as shepherds, overseers, and servants.  Because people, their personalities, and of course Satan is involved, conflict occurs within the Church from time to time.  People respond in several ways. 

1)  There are times where any disagreement leads to stress and the eventual severing of a relationship.  Within the Church this looks like people leaving for “greener pastures” or a church “split”.  Sadly, there are times where those who leave spread discontent within the greater community for primarily selfish reasons. 

2)  There are times conflict is real and realized among even those outside the group.  Have you ever walked into a room and felt the tension?  An example within the Church might be the Hatfields and the McCoys.  One family sits on one side, the other chooses to sit on the other.  They only associate with one another if forced.  Everyone knows of the disagreement/discontent/hate among the two factions.

3)  Finally, there are times where the conflict is real but those in the community/church choose to not allow it to destroy the relationship.  Matthew 18:15ff comes to mind.  If a brother sins against you…   

Here’s my thought:  As Jesus was preparing to go to the cross and eventually ascend back into heaven, He could have prayed for anything.  But He makes it a point to pray for unity among believers (John 17).  Surely He knew there was going to be disagreements, power plays, and people acting foolish.  But here’s the thing.

Unity doesn’t mean a lack of opinion!

As diverse as they were, the apostles had their own thoughts, gifts, and interactions with Jesus.  Sure, they had a common goal (evangelizing the world).  But they did it in ways in which they were gifted.  Jesus didn’t expect Peter to be John, Matthias to be Thomas, etc.

The elders where I serve are wise in their own ways.  In other words, they bring something different to the proverbial table.  I believe that’s what God intended.  That’s community.  That’s relationship.  That’s family!  And even when they disagree, each of them display humility, servanthood, and above all – a unity that is more important than anything else.  Are they perfect?  Of course not!  And God knows that.  But when one person (elder, pastor, one who holds the money bag) has only his/her agenda in mind, things go South in a hurry.  An elder who doesn’t see the community’s needs above his own is stifling the Church.  A pastor who “rules with an iron scepter” leads many astray.  A lay person who complains about everything and thinks no one else gets it, is fooling themselves (and might I add arrogant).

Unity means exactly what Jesus prayed.

We have a common goal.  The elders guard the doctrine.  And at the same time, we celebrate diversity.  Anything more than that is bordering on a cult.


4 Responses to “There Are More Important Things Than You!”

  1. wow – what you say “we have a common goal – guard the doctrine” – I thought of Philip Yancy’s book “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” – he writes about Paul’s use of analogy in 1 Corinthians 12, comparing the church of Christ to the human body; he adds to it with his medical knowledge – it’s a little long, but I love the last sentence: “The body is one unit, though it is made up of many cells… and though all its cells are many… they form one body – if the white cell should say, because I am not a brain cell, I do not belong to the body, it would not, for that reason, cease to be part of the body… If the whole body were an optic nerve cell, where would be the ability to walk? … but in fact God has arranged the cells in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be… there are many cells, but one body… though a hand or foot or ear cannot have a life separate from the body, a cell does have that potential…. it can be part of the body as a loyalists, or it can cling to its own life. Some cells choose to live in the body, sharing its benefits while maintaining complete independence – those cells become parasites or cancer cells.” …. I believe (and I have witnessed) that if we as followers of Christ – chose to not be united – become as detrimental as cancer. And, Amen, unity does not mean lack of opinion. We are all an “unlikely assortment of humans” and I love that God uses our uniqueness for the glory of His Name.

    • I haven’t read that particular book by Yancey. However, I would agree with the quote. As the shepherd guards the sheep pen, the last thing he must concern himself with should be those in the “pen”. Too often, though, the attacks come from within, rather than those outside the camp. Thanks!

  2. Brother, I believe Ephesians 4;11 thru 4;16 says it all! We are all given gifts from GOD and are told to use them where we are strong and rely on anothers gift to become stronger as a whole. Each gift is different, but when used as a whole it makes everyones gift work for the greater unity of the church!

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