Division! Oh man, I just wrote it. It's like a hornet's sting to the head, or a flat tire during Monday-morning rush hour traffic. No pastor or staff member likes it, and yes, it is as dangerous as any scenario that I can come up with. But it's there; right there lurking in your church. You see it working, slithering like the snake it is, looking to bite and infect its next victim. If you've had to deal with this evil force before, you are well aware that division in a church can influence some of the most significant and trusted people on your staff, church leadership and members. Division, if not handled properly, can kill your ministry.
Let's start with the basics.
What Is It?
Division (noun): "The action of separating something into parts, or the process of being separated. A disagreement between two or more groups, typically producing tension or hostility."
This Evil Force (Division) Wants to Accomplish Two Main Goals
- Division wants to separate Christian ties in order to create a divided "army." This will abort the mission of the local church/ministry. Division can stop kingdom advancement cold in its tracks.
- The second thing division wants to do is divide through hostility, the key culprit to it all. If Satan can get the church to doubt, no longer trust, feel abused, rejected or even dishonored, then he can plant hostility or anger into the hearts of people in the church. That is how other doors of evil are opened. Anyone could become a conduit for division. When put under extreme tension, some of the best of the best people in the local church can (and will) snap. Hostility, rage and anger are the ingredients for a damaged church that comes about because of division. This is what Satan wants! He wants the church—your church—to actually hate each other, and he causes it to happen through division.
How Does Political Division Work?
Let's face it, no party is perfect, and there is political agenda lurking on all sides. To add to the ticking time-bomb, the secular news media loves to help induce division. They produce a nonstop barrage of constant name-calling, back-stabbing, political strong-arming, creating an utter display of evil, hate and blatant disregard for anything that is honorable and good, and it greatly affects the American people.
We are a few days out from an extremely intense and very important election day, and political tension is at an all-time high in some states. The devil would love nothing more than for God's people to bite this apple of political division. But when Christians take on the "earthly kingdom" mentality and start wearing the world's mantle for America's problems, they open the door for division and all forms of evil to enter the church fold.
This is nothing new. Political division was going on back in the book of Acts:
So when they had come together, they asked Him, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"
He said to them, "It is not for you to know the times or the dates, which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
When He had spoken these things, while they looked, He was taken up. And a cloud received Him from their sight.
While they looked intently toward heaven as He ascended, suddenly two men stood by them in white garments. They said, "Men of Galilee, why stand looking toward heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you to heaven, will come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:6-11).
Jesus was getting ready to leave the earth and drop down His mantle, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is freely given to His people while we wait for His coming return. But, during this time, the disciples were still looking at the earthly kingdom, the Roman-Jewish conflict of their day. What they were hoping for was that an all-powerful king would come to overthrow the harsh Roman rule. They wanted freedom from Rome; the Jews wanted an established earthly kingdom set up. But Jesus came to establish God's heavenly kingdom on earth. Does this sound familiar?
As Christians, we are building God's kingdom—a heavenly one! When Christians try to solve America's sin problem through politics, this creates further division. (Your vote is important; I am not saying you shouldn't vote!) During a voting year, if you are dealing with a politically divisive church, then you are dealing with shallow Christianity; individuals who are attempting to establish kingdom authority by using worldly principles. The end result of this is always division. This is how it works.
How Do You Heal Political Division in the Church?
Pray! If you are dealing with division in the church, it must be stopped through the power of prayer. Pray until you have peace and God's strategy to resolve this.
Address this topic with your leadership first and foremost. (I'm not suggesting that you accuse anyone.) If division is allowed to flourish in the leadership, it will continue to function through the body of the church as well. Have scriptures to back what you are saying up. Division hates the Word of God!
Teach your church that our kingdom isn't found through political power; instead, we carry a much higher power and authority through Jesus Christ. Teach this for as long as it takes and until the division lifts. Instruct them that sin (hatred, race wars, murder, high taxes, government corruption, violence and so forth) isn't removed or stopped by creating another law or voting for another candidate—these things are only dissolved when the people of God come together to seek His face.
Encourage your people to vote. God can use the power of the vote to accomplish His will. Sometimes just stopping someone from getting into office can prevent decades of unwanted corruption and evil. Other times, it is a matter of keeping someone in the office who can foster Christian morals.
"The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; He turns it to any place He will" (Prov. 21:1).
Political division in America will be healed when the church arises.
Andy Sanders has been speaking for 25 years. He has traveled extensively around the U.S. and other parts of the world. He is a prolific writer who carries both a prophetic and leadership-type message to the church. Sanders has a B.A. from Central Bible College and a master's and doctorate in Christian education from Freedom Seminary, graduating with honors. He is married to Cathy, and their family resides in Syracuse, New York.
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