Why is there so much division in the church?

At least here in the USA, the church is very divided. To an extent, this has always been the case. But now, in addition to being divided from other churches, churches are divided within themselves. Solid, evangelical, Bible-believing Christians are sharply divided from other solid, evangelical, Bible-believing Christians. In recent conversations with pastors and friends with more ministry experience than me, it has been confirmed over and over again that the division is significantly worse than it ever has been.

Whether it is Trump, social justice, masks, vaccines, or stolen election claims, some Christians are taking such tight-fisted and widely divergent viewpoints that they are no longer able to fellowship with those who disagree. Churches have split. Pastors have resigned or have been fired. Factions have formed. Vitriol has replaced discourse. Distrust has replaced peace. Most churches who have survived the last several years relatively unscathed have done so by avoiding these issues as much as possible.

Brothers and sisters, this should not be! Trump isn’t worth it. No politician is. Masks and vaccines should be matters of conviction and grace (Romans 14:5b, 13, 23b). No matter who is president, and no matter whether the election was rigged or legitimate, aren’t we all monarchists waiting for our King to return?

Jesus prayed for unity in His church (John 17:20-23). Christians are to be identified by the love they have for one another (John 13:35; 1 John 4:20). The division in the church today is not of God.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not whining, “Why can’t we all just get along?” There are issues worth fighting about. There are causes worth dying for. There are reasons Christians should divide from other Christians. What I am saying is that the issues we are currently dividing over are not worth it. This world is not our home (John 18:36; Romans 12:2; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 13:14). The issues mentioned above are mostly, if not entirely, of this world.

Also, don’t misunderstand me. I have views on these issues. There are good and reasonable arguments out there, from both sides. But, I have also heard some arguments on these issues, from both sides, that I would describe as somewhere between absurd, obnoxious, and just plain stupid. But, I have, as much as I am able, through the power of the Holy Spirit, chosen unity over division. I have been striving to remember that what unites me with other believers is far more important than the issues on which we disagree.

We should overlook offenses instead of being offended (Proverbs 17:9; 19:11). As Christians, we are to be people who surrender our rights, rather than demand our rights, for the sake of others (1 Corinthians 8:13). Rather than expecting or demanding that others adapt themselves to us, we are to sacrifice our preferences for them (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Brothers and sisters, many of us are fighting the wrong battles (see Ephesians 6:10-18, especially verse 12). Most of the issues that are causing division in the church today should instead be leading to dialogue, understanding, deference, and grace. No matter how right you think you are, no matter how wrong you think someone else is, ask yourself this: is the issue worth causing division in the church that Christ loves and died for?

S. Michael Houdmann

Return to:

GotQuestions.blog homepage

Why is there so much division in the church?