ON DISSENSION AND DlVISlON

"Shame on you for adding to the fires of dissension and division among those who seek to know Jesus Christ. Where is the love of Christ in your publication?" --Nashville, TN

Editor's Note: This brother is right when he speaks of "the fires of dissension and division" among those that he thinks seek to know Jesus Christ. There was plenty of dissension and division out there long before The Examiner came on the scene. Denominationalism itself is division in its worse form. Even within the denominational Churches of Christ, all sects thereof, there have been unholy divisions for several generations. The general religious world is really in a lot of turmoil and strife. Most denominations are in some very bitter and vital struggles regarding who is going to control and manage the organization! The bottom-line cause of the problems, fights, and divisions within each sect, including C of C churches, is the age-old problem of "Who's going to run the institution"; or, "who is in charge here?" Who, or which sect or set of power-brokers within each denomination, is going to control all the churches within the larger denominational structure, as well as the employees, schools, buildings, Family Life Centers, and (of lesser importance) the poor laity the ones who are to obey and pay for whatever happens? The buck stops with the pew-sitters!

The problem is institutionalism! The people are enslaved to these human institutions called "churches," whatever the brand name it wears. People learn to "seek first" the denomination of their choice, enslave themselves therein, give their time, talent, and tithe (especially the tithe!) to IT; and for the most part they have neither voice nor vote in anything that happens. It is CHURCHES and/or DENOMINATIONS that bring on most of the dissensions and divisions in the religious world. Most of these denominations, churches, have divisions and sects within the denomination itself.

The fact is that we live in a "Church world" and the Church, of whatever brand, has taken the place of Jesus Christ in the hearts, lives and service of those who claim HIM as their Lord and Christ. Within the various divisions of the so-called Church of Christ, the unholy teaching is increasing which says that "salvation is in the church"! Hence, one must get into the Church institution, the "right one", of course, in order to be saved. Hence, the masses are not seeking to know and serve Jesus Christ. Their time, talent, money, and service are all given mainly to promote and defend their own denomination.

The brother inquires: "Where is the love of Christ" in The Examiner?" It is doubtful if the brother really understands what "the love of Christ" means or embraces. The LOVE of Christ is seen in Scriptures in at least two dimensions, both of which are essential. There is that gentle, kind, compassionate, patient, passive, non-resistant side of Jesus represented by the familiar figure of speech when He is referred to as "the Lamb of God." Unfortunately this is the only way most people see Him. In The Examiner any objective person can find many examples of these qualities expressed.

The basic reason for publishing this paper is because of our love and deep concern for the Lord's people. We love you! What we are doing is done for and on behalf of the disciples of Christ. This moves us to make the sacrifices and do all the work involved with the paper. None of us receive any financial or material benefit from this work. Why do we do it? Good question; and if you can not figure out the answer, I won't try to tell you.

Jesus is also pictured in Scripture as "the lion of the tribe of Judah," which is quite a different figure; perhaps a complete opposite to "the lamb" figure, The love of Christ is also seen with this dimension or characteristic in the Scriptures. This is the bold, confronting, opposing, exposing, debating, warning, condemning, and controversial "Lion" character! From the beginning of his "ministry He was almost always involved in controversy. First, with the devil Himself. Then from the beginning to the end of His earthly ministry He was in public controversy with the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and the scribes. He deliberately positioned Himself against them to SHOW the difference between an organized RELIGION of law and rules and the simple way of God. Jesus went out of His way to taunt the Pharisees, expose their hypocrisy, and their erroneous teaching. With deliberate intent He would heal on the Sabbath, allow His disciples to gather grain for food on the Sabbath, and other such things for the purpose of publicly exposing what the Pharisees and the others taught and practiced! HE WANTED NO PART OF IT! Look at Matt. 15:1-14 and 23:1-36 for two good examples of the controversial, debating, sin-exposing Jesus, the LION in action! There was the meek and lowly Jesus, the "Lamb of God"; but there was also the Jesus who was bold, defying, exposing, and "fighting" Jesus, "the Lion of the tribe of Judah." Jesus was no wimp or Mr. Milk-toast character. Christians who get "too good" and feel that they are "too Christlike" to expose and condemn sin and error, have missed the meaning of being a follower of Jesus. They are following their own desires and are self-serving.

It is so sad that most Christians seem to have failed to see and understand the two dimensions of Jesus in His character and work. Did Jesus stir "the fires of dissension and division" in His life and teaching? Indeed He did. Let me ask, "Where is the love of Christ" in what He said and did? He said that He "came not to bring peace but a sword." He caused, and was the cause of, division and dissension; and warned those who would truly follow Him that "a man's foes shall be those of his own household" (cf. Matt. 10:34-39).

Are YOU really a follower of Jesus? Do you stand for and uphold truth and right; as well as boldly oppose and plainly expose sin and error? If not, you are not His disciple save in claim only! He was "despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." The enemies of God put Jesus and His dedicated followers to death. If you, dear brother and sister, are fully dedicated to the Lord Jesus, you will follow His exam-pie in opposition to sin and error wherever it is found. And, if you really do this, you can expect strong opposition from the forces of evil and error, even from others who claim to be His followers. "Take up your cross" and follow your Lord, with faith and boldness. God bless you! - CAH