“There's no trouble like church trouble.” I heard this from a friend in our sister church in Lancaster, a quote from a brother now with His Saviour.
There's no trouble like church trouble. How true it is. In my last post I was singing the praise of the church family, and its ability to replace – with interest! - any broken relationships we might suffer as a result, but there's an unfortunate flip side to this: Family breakdown is so painful quite because of how unnatural it really is – how it goes against the way things should be. When Christian church families break down – it's a whole order of magnitude higher because of Who it is who's brought us together.
If we claim to be God's Holy and Separate People, washed by the blood of Jesus, and then behave towards each other worse than non-Christians do, the horror and shame of it is magnified tenfold. Just read 1 & 2 Corinthians and see the Apostle Paul's anger at how the Christians at the church in Corinth were behaving towards each other. This absolutely should not be!
Every family has problems, and those problems should be worked through. Sometimes an outside counsellor is needed to mediate arguments, but Christians have no excuse for falling out so bitterly when we claim to have been saved by such a gracious, loving God. I'm not saying that we should never disagree, and that some of our differences and distinctives aren't important, but the fact that we're sinners saved by God's grace – the fact that we're all “in Christ” - should change the way that we disagree.
I can't find the quote now, but I'm sure it was Thomas Manton* who said (something like), “I should never be ashamed to own as Brother one who God is not ashamed to own as Son.”
Let this determine how we deal with each other as Christians. Before we start thinking about our differences, let's remember that every Christian is someone loved by God, adopted as His child – a person for whom Christ died; someone He thought valuable enough to save from their sins so they could be with Him forever.
*A 17th-Century puritan with lots of great quotes to his name!