One of the saddest things about having been part of many different congregations in my lifetime is seeing people just like those two famous women above. These were good women who had worked hard for the Lord, but for some reason they just could not get along. We have seen it in every church and it is never takes long to figure out who the two parties are. Once we were only at a place for a week-long gospel meeting and we still knew who they were well before the week was up. That time it was two men, by the way.
A lot of people may say that it doesn't really matter as long as they don't gather up parties on either side or cause a ruckus because, after all, the Bible doesn't say we have to like each other. Yet the older I get and the more I study, the more I believe it does matter for one very simple reason. Let me show you quickly this morning.
Grab your Bible and look up Ephesians 2:11-22. Christ came here with a mission. The first one was making peace between God and man (Rom 5:1-3). But he also came to make peace among men. Look at verse 12 in this passage. What was happening before Christ? As Gentiles we were separate from Christ, alienated from the Jews, strangers from the covenant of promise, had no hope, and were without God. Do you see all those words of separation and disunity?
But now that we are in Christ we have been brought near, are one new man, are in one body of the reconciled, have access to the father, have become one nation and one family, and are built into one spiritual Temple (vv13-21). Notice the difference in the words—nearness, access, oneness. And why did that have to happen? Because (v 22) God, who is a God of peace (Phil 4:9) cannot dwell in a Temple where there is no peace.
When we think we can hang on to our little peeves and animosities and have it not affect the church, we are sadly mistaken. It isn't just the Jew/Gentile or black/white problem, though they are bad enough. It took Christ coming to fix that and make us one nation. But we can still ruin the whole thing if an outsider can come in and see the disunity after just a few days, when one family fights another, when two men behave like children who want their way "or else," when two women avoid one another like the plague.
When you just can't get along, and don't really even seem to care, you may as well hang a sign on the door that says, "God not wanted here."
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21).