“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. – (1 Corinthians 3:1-9 ESV)
My observation over the last 35 years in the Church is that many believers are held captive to what some call “a cult of personality.” We all have our favorite teachers, movements, and Christian personalities that we identify with and align our theology accordingly. However, the question must be asked: are we (the Church as a whole) guilty of the very destructive issue the Apostle Paul warned us against?
When we follow those who are eloquent of speech, or even charismatic in practice, but have very little biblical understanding, we tend to stray off into doctrinal error. But, on the other hand, we sometimes follow those who have an accurate doctrinal view of Jesus and the Scripture without an ongoing experiential knowledge of God himself. This leads to a cerebral understanding lacking valid religious experiences.
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD he hath also rejected thee from being king.” – (1 Samuel 15:23 KJV)
Those that would split a church over disagreements that are not based on unrepentant moral behavior or serious doctrinal error of its leadership are in spiritual rebellion. I once heard a preacher say concerning those that cause Church splits and leave to start another Church, “go ahead and and start your own Church and you get to be the head witch.” There may well be some truth to this statement in light of the Scripture referenced above concerning Saul’s disregard of God’s ways. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” Those that start “new works” because of a lack of patience and long suffering with those in leadership are usually motivated by a need for power, even if they have convinced themselves they’re doing it in the name of sound doctrine.
“…when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world–right up to this moment.” – (1 Corinthians 4:13 NIV)
True leadership, as one respected Christian voice communicates, is spelled “Doormat.” True leaders wash the feet, ‘spiritually speaking’,of their congregations. True leaders never seek their own power or position, they only seek to serve. True Apostles (and they had great spiritual authority) are referred to as, “the scum of the earth.” Division in the Church exposes the carnal hearts of those who are leading the rebellion against godly authority, thus hurting the cause of Christ in our communities. This type of rebellion brings shame to the body of Christ as a whole.
Do you “not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!” – (1 Corinthians 6:3 ESV)
How will we ever judge angels in the age to come if we can’t even get along with one another and learn to patiently live together in our congregations now? If we really believe in the power of prayer we will patiently wait for the leaders and the Pastor to grow and make appropriate decisions and overcome blind spots …why can’t we prayerfully and patiently wait for the head of the Church (Jesus) to bring correction to them?
It’s right and good to humbly confront the Elders in our Churches when we have legitimate issues and disagreements. While we might disagree on how a New Testament Church is to be lead, why not practice long-suffering, patience, and brotherly love, and give Jesus time to change us all in the process. This is what the Bible calls, the fruit of the Spirit. But, this can only happen if Jesus is allowed to be the head of his Church which he purchased with his blood. May we all seek and pray for unity in our Churches.