No Fury Quite Like It

Christians are a people who live in this world but are not of the world. Well, supposedly they are.  We participate in the societal structure of their community just like everyone else and this contribution takes on the form of holding jobs to support our loved ones. Christians also like to talk about how they’re affiliation with the faith makes them a unique type of professional. As an example, there are Christian barbers, evangelical bakers and plenty of Christian politicians. One that stands out on a personal level is a local used car company in my local community which advertises itself as a Christian business with old fashion values and while I’m sure there are intended ethical differences contrasting it from a secular used card lot, they still sell sub-level cars and service. I know this because I purchased one and have regretted it to this day. They sell awful cars much like the secular lot just down the road. But once they associate the term Christian with the sign, you are advertising your business and your faith as Honest Larry the sleezy Christian car salesmen. They produce services exactly like secular men/women but add the Christians tag to their role to excuse this sub-level amenity. This is especially alarming when a brother sells a brother a lemon.

This similar public output can be seen when one dares to visit Twitter. Christians promoting their Christian organization or local church on social media all the while acting no differently than the nice atheist who is fighting them. Much like our example of the interaction between the Christian salesman and the Christian purchaser, there is a serious deficiency in their interaction. Christians fighting Christians in a public exhibition airing all their dirty laundry and condemning each other to hell while the secular and false teachers observe while munching on Nachos and drinking cheap beer is no way to honour Christ. But, alas, it is the norm! 

Bonhoeffer On the Other Side

While these public displays show that the heavenly community has problems, these same issues arise within the walls of churches also. One particular observation that takes little to discern when it comes to the question of interactions between Christians is that churches are a place where a supposedly united people often have varying opinions on just about everything. Some Christians can be unabashedly opinionated and not always solely on theological matters or orthopraxy. Think about the good old COVID days. Not too long ago, that battle entered your local church doors similar to the Normandy invasion. This war was between the jab-a-lots vs. the jab-nots and it was a spectacle of brotherly harshness. While debating vaccines and obedience to Nero (or any other issue) should be done in a proper fashion, mainly with calmness and good biblical argumentation, manifesting a reputation of believers in Christ, we observed this dialogue done with division and strife, as the old King James renders it. We’ve all heard of instances where someone was asked to refrain from attending church without government papers and witnessed examples of many forms of Fisher Price excommunications being issued. On the other hand, other brethren proclaimed these same types of spiritual ejections on the basis of their brother receiving the so-called mark of the breast. This all took on a more serious tone when some brethren decided to play Bonhoeffer but on the wrong side. These regime spies were even willing to spill the beans on their brothers for opening their ecclesiastical door for the worship of their Lord. Some of those brave men were given a hefty fine while others spent time in jail apart from their families.

Apostolic Strife

While these displays were disheartening and dreadful, strife is not the evolution of a corrupt COVID dealing church. We read in scripture that even the Apostles were arguing who was the greatest among them (Luke 22:24).  Even those closest to Christ needed correction on this matter. For those who were willing to read the infamous Romans 13 passage all the way through, they would have observed that the 1st century Romans were commanded to avoid strife and jealousy (Romans 13:13). This wasn’t written because it was simply a possibility of this behaviour in their local churches but because envy and discord were actually happening in the churches of Rome. The church in Corinth was exposed to this type of behaviour and the great apostle Paul left little room to any of this type of comportment (1 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 12:20). While at times strife comes in the form of physical fury, the apostles seem to deal more exclusively with the strife of words (1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 2:23) and primarily in the form its association with jealousy (James 3:14-16). They were not left in the dark on how to address this behaviour and neither are we. Therefore, this is a sin that has plagued many local assemblies in history and rest assured it will affect yours.

A text

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23-24)

Whether we like it or not, animosity still exists due to the COVID years and for various other reasons. In his famous sermon on the mount, the Lord Jesus resolved to include in the kingdom nomos some pretty important relationship advice. In contrast to the anger that the Lord Jesus had just enunciated with the internal interpretation of the 6th commandment, His emphasis was on repairing a broken relationship with a brother and not to linger. When one was to offer worship at the altar, this was a very serious matter often accompanied by a long journey and plenty of wait time to make that offer. While the significance of this offering was crucial to a Jew in 1st century Palestine, the Lord Jesus places more importance on the reconciliation between two brothers. Prior to offering up your worship, you were to take the time to go back to wherever you came and reconcile with that brother. This takes humility and a lot of it. When the Lord dealt with His disciples’ arguments in Luke 22, the Lord’s reply to their strife was that true greatness came in the form of servitude and humbling yourself (Luke 22:24-27).

Millennial Intent

By means of application, of course, we should take these words with utmost seriousness because they came from the lips of our Saviour and Lord. Matthew 5:23-24 is not a word for the Millennium when everything is perfect. It is meant for us now! The worship of a believer and his coming to the Lord’s table, offering his praise and adoration to the one true God cannot be done with a pure heart if there is strife against a brother. With that said,  I’m not denying that some strife is probably well-merited and unquestionably the cause of the conflict is a serious consideration in the reconciliation process. Folks, this isn’t necessarily an easy process and various circumstances will dictate how the ceasefire will take place. Approaching a brother or a sister is not bowing the knee to them but coming to them about an offense with intentions to reconcile. At times, that will mean that you will have to ask forgiveness while at other times, they will need to repent and ask for it. This is significant because all too often we ask people to offer unconditional forgiveness without true genuine repentance but this is certainly not the biblical model.

Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4)

Displaying the forgiveness to the world and refraining from strife and jealousy doesn’t come easy but it is reflective upon our testimony to this world that there are certain things that we can associate the term Christian with and it is honouring.


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