Nobody likes division. “Division means conflict and conflict brings suffering and sadness.” Many point to our nation as being divided on several fronts…not only racial, but social as well. . For example, on our television sets during Hurricane Katrina, we witnessed the suffering of thousands of the poorest of the poor and we saw first hand how the evacuation plans in New Orleans effectively ignored the need to evacuate the poorest 10 percent of the population, those who did not own cars or have money to pay for transportation…Did the government show favoritism…partiality?
Of course we face an even more important division than those that exist in our country….we face division in the church. “One of the chief objections that the Roman Catholic Church had against the Protestant Reformation was the proposed loss of church authority, which was thought to hold the church together. We can safely say that their concern was unfounded, as we see unity all over the world around the gospel. But, that is speaking broadly…I bet if I were to ask you to raise your hands if you had been involved in a “church split” or seen people dig their heels in a church dispute, every hand might go up in this room. One church in Dallas was in such bad shape, each faction filed a lawsuit to claim the church property. During the hearing, the courts learned that the dispute had all begun at a church dinner when a certain elder received a smaller slice of ham that a child seated next to him. This was reported in the newspapers!! Or maybe you’ve read the Dallas Morning News and saw the church that is divided over whether or not the pictorial directory should include gay couples, or gay people individually but not as couples, or whether to omit all individual and family photos. “I heard about a church with a roof that’s green on one side and red on the other. This was done because some members of the church adamantly wanted green and other members adamantly wanted red. The disagreement was so intense that the church was going to split because of it. Finally, a compromise was reached.”
Now, these examples seem far out there, but don’t dismiss the enemy’s work so quickly. We’ve seen Satan attack the church head on in the book of Acts and be defeated by an instant death penalty (5), an angelic jail break and bold sermons that were used by God to convert thousands. But, Satan does not give up. He now strikes the church from the inside…and honesty I think this is where we stand most vulnerable today. I don’t anticipate anyone of you during the confession of sins to admit that you worship Satan and want to start a demonic church…but what about gossip? What about that time that you were overlooked in a conversation…what about when the music wasn’t your favorite or when you were so distracted by that little baby in worship? How will we handle attacks from within? How will we be able to keep from painting our roof two different colors? That’s our need this morning as we look to our text in Acts 6.
Mark Dever, 12 Challenges Churches Face
Kent Hughes, Acts
Surviving An American Church Split