In 1996 I purchased a little treasure from Warren Wiersbe entitled, ON BEING A SERVANT OF GOD. It proved to be a valuable resource for advice and encouragement over my ensuing years of ministry. The book is based on Wiersbe’s personal experiences compiled over a lifetime of ministry. The excerpts below are from chapter 11 which deals with people and church unity.
“When our older daughter was a child in grade school, one day she came storming into the house, slammed the door, stomped into her room, slammed that door, all the while muttering under her breath, “People – people! – PEOPLE!”
Thinking I might be of some help, I tapped on the door and asked, “May I come in?” The answer was explosive “NO!” “Why?” I asked. “Because you’re a people!”
Even children have their problems with people. One thing’s for sure: believers who try to serve the Lord can expect to have problems with people – and maybe people will have problems with them!
Moses had problems with people, so much so that one day he asked God to take his life because he’d had enough (Num. 11). Sometimes the people you help the most appreciate it the least. Jesus healed ten lepers, and only one of them – a foreigner – came back to thank Him (Luke 17:11 – 19).
Most people think of a heretic only as somebody who teaches false doctrine. But the word translated “heresy” in the New Testament comes from a Greek word that means, “to choose.” It describes an office seeker campaigning for votes and asking everybody, “Are you for me or against me?” There’s a willfulness about this attitude that often causes bad feelings and might produce division. If we take the “we/they” approach, we may become heretics; and instead of solving the problem, we will only make it worse.
You and I don’t have to manufacture unity in the church because it’s already there. We’re all one in Christ (Gal. 3:28), and the spiritual oneness of the body is a miracle of God’s grace (Eph. 4:1 – 6). No, we don’t have to manufacture unity; but we do have the obligation to maintain the unity that Jesus died to create – “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). So important is the unity of His people that Jesus prayed about it before He went to the cross (John 17:22 – 24).”
The local church can be one of the sweetest places on earth, when we strive to edify one another. We should never expect everyone to agree with us on all things. Yet in our disagreements we should strive for a charitable spirit.
Written by Pat Delaney, Field Administrator for Baptist World Mission