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Disunity 16th February, 2011

Posted by Scotty in Challenges, Church, Heart, Pain.
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I hate it! I really really hate it! Right now I’m somewhere between angry and heartbroken as I think about (and experience) the disunity that exists in the church in Scotland.

Scottish Church History is scarred by division upon division. Today, after hundreds of years you can see and hear the bitterness and resentment that underlies much of church life.

  • Two pastors of age-old denominations won’t sit in the same room together because of a split that happened a few hundred years ago, even though they would probably be wonderful friends if they were in the same denomination.  They can’t get past the ancient rivarly
  • Church members bad mouth other churches as they try to sell you theirs.
  • Members of old churches making accusations against new churches they’ve never set foot in nor met someone from.
  • Members of young churches write off older churches without ever setting foot in the door to see the work God is clearly doing.

The old is threatened by the new.
The new is stifled by the old.
The old is against the old.
The new competes with the new.

I’m angered by the things I see and hear.  As I consider God’s heart toward His church my heart breaks along with His at the way His Body behaves towards its other members.

Somewhere along the line we go terribly wrong. We start to care more about our kingdom than His. We see other churches as our competition rather than an extension of ours. We see their methods as wrong rather than different. We turn our hearts against them rather than pray for them.

We don’t take the time to understand. We stand back and throw our stones.

  • How does it feel to be a 100 year old church that has struggled to reach people for years?
  • How does it feel to watch the church you’ve been in for 50 years slowly dying?
  • How does it feel to be a new church plant looking for help and encouragement but only experiencing opposition from the established churches around?
  • How does it feel to be fighting for a church you feel called to and hear someone call it dead?
  • How does it feel to birth a church when God calls you and hear brothers and sisters try to stop it?

What is my motivation? Is this God’s will as modelled by His Son and explained in His Word? Or is this my way, mixed with my pride, my ignorance, my preferences and my environment?

We will never achieve church unity.  We will never be able to get over our issues.  We will never agree or get along.  Only God can make that happen.  It requires a massive move of His Spirit, convicting people of their sin and opening our hearts to love.

It’s not easy.  Truth and Grace are the two hands of God.  It’s hard to know when to bite your tongue and offer Grace or when to draw the line and  stand for Truth.  But… it’s always speaking the Truth in Love… and extending Love grounded in Truth.

We are supposed to be reflecting the Grace & Truth of God to the world.  Instead we are a like a broken mirror.

Lord, have mercy on me. I repent of the ways I have failed to love my brothers and sisters. And I repent of the way we, the Church, have failed to be your Body and stood in opposition to each other. Have mercy on us, in Jesus Name.  Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

(For the ‘other side of the coin’ in my processing read the next entry)

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Comments»

1. Sharon O - 16th February, 2011

Truth and Grace… I fully understand.
I will pray for you in this situation it sounds upsetting and discouraging.

Scotty - 1st March, 2011

Thanks for the prayers Sharon. It’s such a strange place of processing. The initial shock of it was discouraging… but I believe God is helping my heart to be more like His in the way He views the church here… and so that’s encouraging. 🙂

2. Simon Turner - 24th February, 2011

Good post, Scott. As a Scotsman I know only too well that we can argue, fall out and stop speaking. And over trivial matters.

While I do not believe denominations were ever part of the plan of the Church I do believe that, now we have them, they can be put to good use. Different denominations can attract and reach different people. Maybe that is me being over-simplistic and idealistic but I do see people who would not like my Church but may very well like the Church of Scotland down the road – if you catch my drift.

The only thing I need to know – is someone in Christ? If yes then they are my brother.

Scotty - 1st March, 2011

Hey Simon,
great thoughts. And yeh, I definitely believe God is redeeming the divisions and using them to His glory. The reality is, no church or denomination is perfect, and a lot of the issues I see come from those who believe theirs IS. They all have their flaws, some more blatant than others but God is using them in different ways and I’m so grateful for that!

3. Nicola Harvey - 25th February, 2011

Just read this today!I’m with Simon …people are free to worship as they wish I believe and denominations cater for that.I love my brothers and sisters in other denominations but choose to go to a church that suits me.
Sadly we will always have people in churches causing division and anger is the right response!!

A word of caution though…we can end up with no joy as we despair at the state of the Body…we have to stay focused on God who despite us still loves and keeps going with us!
‘Our Lord never put His trust in any person.Yet He was never suspicious,never bitter and never lost hope for anyone because He put His trust in God first.He trusted absolutely in what Gods grace could do for others.If I put my trust in human beings first the end result will be my despair and hopelessness toward everyone.I will become bitter because I have insisted that people be what no person can ever be-absolutely perfect and right.Never trust anything in yourself or in
anyone else,except the grace of God’Oswald Chambers

Scotty - 1st March, 2011

Hey Nicola,
I appreciate the comments. While I agree that denominations do cater to people’s preferences I don’t like where that leads us… down a path where church becomes about what I like and get as opposed to me committing and contributing. When we choose church based on our preference, it’s so easy to leave when things change because it’s no longer what we like.

I also hear your words about despairing about the Body. I definitely don’t want to advocate that people go down that spiral, however, I do think it’s healthy that we grieve where things fall short of His plan. This has definitely been a season of learning to grieve for the brokenness of the church… but to stay there would be wrong and so I praise Him that He is in control and that “God is able to do immeasurably more than all that we ask of imagine”!

4. Nicola Harvey - 25th February, 2011

PS Love ya bro!!!Keep pressing 🙂
Nicola X


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