Romans 16:17,18 Watch out for those who cause divisions… avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites…
I have picked fights with others over issues like predestination or the age of the earth, under the guise of discussing God’s truth. Pretending to be on the side of right doctrine, I have manufactured conflict for no other reason than to flex my own opinion. I have told myself I was defending logic, reason and God, but really, I was just addicted to being right. To feel good about winning, someone must be proven wrong. I have argued just to be right and then tried to mask it in the façade of religious zeal.
How many Christians, through the centuries, have done the same? How many of us divide, produce conflict and fight while masquerading as disciples? We split churches and make bitter enemies, not because we are following Christ but because are addicted to our own need to be right. We become convinced that our side of some disputable matter is God’s truth and thus, we cannot tolerate anyone who disagrees with us.
Paul warned against such dividers and pretenders. He insisted that we practice grace with each other in these matters where there is room for genuine disagreement. Some issues, such as what foods are clean or unclean, do not need to be settled. With some disputes, it is not necessary that there be a loser and winner.
This does not mean that we do not take a stand on anything of course. There are disputable matters of opinion and then there are basic tenets of faith which are indisputable. The problem is, we have difficulty distinguishing between the two. In our persistent defective flesh, we attribute every personal opinion to God’s will and then we set out to enforce that opinion on those around us.
It is then a good exercise for me to ask myself, Whose will I am serving? Am I pursuing God’s will or Scott’s will? In the case of those arguments I mentioned earlier, if I was honest at the time, I would have seen that I was just arguing for the sake of being right. I was not concerned about the individual with whom I was disagreeing. In the conflict, I did not care if either of us followed God better because of the discussion. I just wanted to be right.
Compare this to the conversation where I share my need for God and tell another what He has done for me. It is out of genuine love for God and neighbor that I speak of God’s grace and love. If someone disagrees with me, that is their right, which I must accept. It is my own pride and addiction to self that bristles when others disagree with me.
God rarely asks me to fight with others. He never asks me to be hateful and divisive in my pursuit of self. If I am producing conflict, I must ask myself if I am pursuing God or if I am pursuing self under the guise of following God. Am I a disciple, pointing others to Christ or am I just at pretender, still addicted to me?