WORSHIP WARS

If Satan can use something to cause division among God’s people, you can rest assured he certainly will (1 Pet. 5:8). Take the issue of worship for example. Instead of all Christians joining together to praise God in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24), often times we find ourselves in useless worship “wars.” Satan can even take something good and try to use it towards his evil cause.

Unfortunately, certain zealous Christians are willing to declare fellowship warfare with other Christians because of disagreements on worship. I have seen these so-called “wars” take place over a wide range of subjects. From the number of containers used for the Lord’s Supper to the type of music used in worship. From the one who is leading worship to whether or not children can have their own separate worship. The issues are limitless.

One reason why so many individuals give up on God is because they see our childishness and want no part of it. When one woman heard about some of the problems and elementary actions at a church, she told me that this reminded her why she left “church.” Instead of a peaceful and safe environment where Christians can come together and praise God (Psa. 133:1), some have made “cooperate worship” just another opportunity to fight.

This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, there was a literal war that almost took place because of certain, well-intended Jews who thought they were defending the truth (Josh. 22:10-34). When the sons of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh came to the region of the Jordan, they built a large altar (Josh. 22:11).

When the sons of Israel heard about this, they were ready to go to war against them, thinking they were in opposition to God (v.12). They weren’t supposed to be building an altar and the sons of Israel were going to go “take care of business.” They accused the sons of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh of being unfaithful, turning away from God and rebelling against the Lord since they had built an extra altar (v.16).

However, Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh explained to the sons of Israel that they had built this altar out of concern as a witness between them and their generations after them to show that they too have a portion in the Lord (vv. 21-29). They were not unfaithful to the Lord nor had they rebelled against God. Fortunately, the sons of Israel realized the truth before starting an unnecessary war with Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh.

“The word pleased the sons of Israel, and the sons of Israel blessed God; and they did not speak of going up against them in war to destroy the land in which the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad were living” (v.33).

How often do we cause unnecessary worship “wars?” It is easy to condemn those who do not worship the exact way in which we do. It is easy to accuse others of bad motives, as the sons of Israel did.

Jesus had to constantly deal with this type of immature behavior (Mk. 7:1-13; Mt. 12:1-21; etc.) and Paul warned against this dangerous mentality (Col. 2:18-23). Instead of looking for any and every opportunity to wage warfare when we disagree with a brother, let’s be constantly striving together for the faith of the gospel in one mind and spirit (Phil. 1:27; Rom. 14:19; Rom. 14:4; etc.).

“Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11).

– Kevin Pendergrass

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