"Divide and conquer" has long been a strategy used by the enemy, whether Satan or armies or political movements. If the enemy can find an area where there is division, bitterness, rebellion, or conflicting views, he can intervene and play one side against the other. Everyone knows the uncanny way children can play one parent against another, especially where there is a difference of lifestyles and opinions. James says it even stronger, "where there is envying and strife, there is confusion and every evil thing." Division is an open door for the enemy.
Unfortunately, this principle also applies to the church, the body of Christ. A Hebrew friend quotes a saying "Where there are two Jews there are three opinions." Likewise, it doesn't take long to find disagreement in the Body of Christ. Can Christians go to a Harry Potter movie? Is there racial or sexual oppression in the church? Should Christians support Donald Trump? Is it okay to drink or smoke? What about homosexuals in the church or in ministry? tattoos? marijuana? divorce and remarriage? And the latest, to what extent do churches have to obey when political authorities close all public gatherings?
In contrast, Jesus prayed that the church would be so completely one that the world would know that God sent Jesus. (John 17:21-23) Obviously, there is a place for unity in the major issues and room for diversity in the minors. Even Paul talked about those who did or did not eat meat, or honored a special day, as long as each one did it for the Lord. However, if we as Christians can be divided, Satan will easily divert us into fighting each other instead of carrying out our mission to reach people with the Gospel and to be the kingdom of God on earth.
Jesus declared that the Word is truth, and when we know the truth, it sets us free. Yet Satan quoted the Word (part of Psalm 91) in his temptation for Jesus to jump off the temple. So just saying the words of Scripture does not guarantee that it is correct application. The Ethiopian eunuch reading Isaiah 53 asked Philip, "How can I understand unless someone guides me?"
Praise God, there is someone who has been sent to guide us! His name is the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that the Spirit would teach us all things, would bear witness to Him, and would guide us into all truth. However, fallen human nature is proud and rebellious. We think we are God, and our opinion is the best. Social media is filled with everyone sharing their critical view of someone else. Proverbs describes a fool as one who is right in his own eyes and delights in sharing his opinion. Nothing is more disheartening than reading Judges and seeing God's people continually making poor decisions and suffering the consequences. It closes with the summary, "everyone did what was right in his own eyes." So the challenge remains to lay down our thoughts and be willing to be taught His truth. After all, "His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways," according to Isaiah 55. We need to be willing to listen to the Holy Spirit and let Him guide us into His truth.
Many people believe that the Covid19 virus and the resulting financial pressure is just the beginning of the shaking that God promised would happen so that what is unshakeable would remain. During hard times there is also a great opportunity for people to realize their need for God. But if the church is divided and arguing with each other, we will not be able to look like the Lord Jesus to a hurting world. Jesus, in His prayer of John 17, said that when His people are one, the world will know He is God. Therefore, people's hearts will see that Jesus is real, only if and when, His followers become one.
God has entrusted to us the Gospel and the commission to reach the world. We must let the Spirit of God teach us and transform us to become one, rather than getting divided over our opinions. When we disagree, either you are wrong or I am wrong, or we are both wrong. Truth is one. Can we lay down our thoughts and humbly seek Him until He shows us truth, which we both know is from Him? Only as we submit to Him and His perfect love, will we fulfill our calling to be one (Ephesians 4:1-6) and experience His fullness. God will have a faithful remnant who will hear His voice, unite in truth and love, and become the spotless beautiful bride.