REPOST Today’s AMI Quiet Time, provided by Pastor Peter Yoon of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego, is an updated version of his blog first posted on May 23, 2014. Peter is a graduate of University of California, Riverside (BA) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Divisiveness in the Church”
Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.
Although a common theme in the NT is unity (both Jesus and Paul prayed for unity), a weapon of choice that can effortlessly undermine unity is gossip. The author of Proverbs noticed that gossip served itself on a platter and was eaten as delicious morsels by its participants (Prov. 18:8), yet all gossip creates a culture of distrust, suspicion, doubt, and ultimately disunity.
Unfortunately, a divisive person is not easy to recognize in the church. The person may appear to carry the best intentions as he/she shares some “constructive criticism” about the church, the small group, the worship team, or the pastoral staff. The listeners begin to take notice of what once seemed to be trivial matters but has somehow quickly escalated into a matter of urgency and great discontentment. What was once a small church fighting for unity, a small group gaining momentum, or a worship team working harmoniously, is now a combative group—mean towards one another or at best stand-offish so that they merely put up with one another.
A divisive person is not to be tolerated in the church. His/her attacks are often taken in the shifting shadows where it is not easy to catch them in the act. Paul knows that the gospel is at stake if the church becomes fractured by divisive and toxic conversations that tear down rather than build up. The divisive person must be identified and warned sternly once, then a second time.
Do you sometimes try little too hard to justify your discontentment with your church? Do you, therefore, find yourself talking with anyone who is willing to listen to your complaint while not saying hardly anything to the leaders? You may say things like, “I brought up this matter to see if my thinking is off; what do you think? It could be that you are trying to get that person to your side. The best thing to do is to speak to the leaders of the church directly. In fact, in any relationship, the direct approach is always the best. Try it today.
Prayer: Dear God, use my tongue to build up and edify the church rather than divide and hurt the church. Today, I pray for the leadership of my church asking that You will bless them and their families. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Acts 21
Lunch Break Study
Read Luke 9:46-48: An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
Questions to Consider
- What does this potentially divisive argument among the disciples reveal about our human nature?
- How are the disciples to cultivate authentic humility as servants of God’s Kingdom?
- In what ways do you make deliberate attempts to cultivate humility as God’s servants? Do you deliberately spend time with those with the “least” status?
- Luke addresses the issue of status. The synonym of “status” for most people is “power,” and its antonym is “lowliness.” But Jesus calls us away from pursuing status and power. Viewed spiritually, the opposite of status is humility. Such an attitude is fundamental for the disciple. There is an intense irony here: as Jesus discusses the Son of Man’s approaching rejection, the disciples are consumed by their own discipleship rankings.
- Jesus points to a child, a person with little status in the ancient world. Jesus does not view children as insignificant. For him every person counts. Bringing the child to his side, Jesus says, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” Jesus’ point is that everyone, even the lowest person on the ladder, is important. Receiving a child is like receiving God.
Were you able to bless, encourage, and edify others with the use of your tongue today?