by Barry Arnold
Perhaps you have heard the story about Satan selling his tools. One simple tool was priced far above all the others. It was a plain, simple wedge. The question was asked, “Why is it so expensive?” Satan answered, “It’s one of my most effective tools; with it, I destroy churches, marriages, and homes. With that wedge, I accomplish my agenda.” One of Satan’s chief ambitions in our homes and churches is to destroy unity.
Satan’s chief plan is to drive wedges. He uses the wedges to divide the brethren, to destroy confidence in one another, to bring doubt about the integrity of leaders and their wisdom in leadership and administration. Satan tears, breaks, rubs, cuts, and scars until everything is in shreds.
Disunity: An Age-Old Problem
Lack of unity is an age-old problem. God is not the author of confusion. Satan is the author of confusion, the originator of dissension. Remember that a lack of unity separated the first man from God, separated the first two brothers, separated Lot from his godly Uncle Abraham, sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt, and caused Aaron and Miriam to speak against Moses.
In the New Testament churches we find this problem even in those dug out by the Apostle Paul. In Corinth he said, “There are divisions among you” (1 Corinthians 11:18). Paul expended his energy to build the Ephesian church and when he departed, he had a great fear resting on his heart. This is what he said in Acts 20, “For I know this that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-31).
Some people do not have a heart for the flock. Wolves do not have a heart for the flock. But, not only from without, but from within, men will arise speaking perverse things, (creating discord) to draw away people after them. Later, Paul writes to the Ephesian church, “Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit" (Ephesians 4:3).
In Proverbs, we read of seven things that God hates, including “a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among the brethren" (Proverbs 6:16-18). Sowing seeds of discord is what Paul spoke out against. Paul's expectation for the Corinthian church was “that there be no divisions among you" (1 Corinthians 1:10).
We need to be careful what we say and do behind the scenes and in the presence of others so that we do not create an undercurrent that will bring division and destruction.
The Beauty of Unity
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Psalm 133).
“Behold,” says the psalmist, perhaps because it is so rare to see such beautiful unity among the brethren. He says, “Take a good look; it is possible.” God looks upon it with approval. Who can estimate the value of this kind of oneness in the Christian fellowship?
The survival and success of the Israelites in the days of the judges depended on unity. One instance was when Gideon was fighting the great host of Midianites. Judges 7:21 reveals the secret: “And they stood every man in his place… and the enemy fled.” It means something significant for us to find our place. My Daddy used to put puzzles together. Often there were many pieces of the same color, such as a big blue sky. I discovered each piece only really fit into one place. There is such a thing as being in the place God wants us to be.
Unity is Jesus' goal for believers. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. ... That they may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:17-21).
When there is discord in the church, we do not give a convincing testimony to the unsaved.
The inspired writer, writing about the Apostolic church, wants us to notice this: “these all continued with one accord" (Acts 1:14); “they were all with one accord in one place" (Acts 2:1); “And they continuing daily with one accord” (Acts 2:46); “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart" (Acts 4:32).
Striving For Unity
I am not a mariner, but I know there are dangers on the high seas because of fierce winds and high waves. I am also aware that there is great danger from undercurrents that sweep in with great force from beneath—people sowing discord among the brethren.
God has blessed us with a great church and given us some good days. God knows we have plenty of room for improvement but there is nothing that would please the devil more than to divide our ranks and destroy us. Jesus prayed for our sanctification that we might be one, and that the world might know it. When there is discord in the church we do not give a convincing testimony to the unsaved.
We need to be careful what we say and do behind the scenes and in the presence of others so that we do not create an undercurrent that will bring division and destruction. In each of the three churches that I have pastored, a group of unsatisfied people broke away because they claimed we were too conservative or not spiritual enough. An individual or two persuaded the others. Today, none of those groups are in existence and most of the leaders either are deceased or have gone astray.
We need to be careful. If we ever needed to stick together, hold together, pray together, love one another, and bear with one another, it is now.
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Dr. Timothy Cooley, Sr.
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