Inner turmoil and public disagreement are obviously bad things to happen to an organization. I am reminded of times when I have seen members of the same sports teams make back-biting comments to the media or even just right out brawl in the dugout or clubhouse. No matter what the cause, this is always a sign of some kind of internal breakdown.
As I watch these things happen I always want to jump through the screen and say, “Hey! Didn’t anyone tell you that you’re playing for the same team?” It seems silly. If you’re on some sort of a team, one could assume that there is an external adversary that you are fighting against. For a sports team, it could be an opposing team. For a community service team, it could be the presence of poverty or homelessness. If there is inner disagreement in these teams, not only will it weaken themselves, but it will also make the opponent stronger.
What does this mean then, for the church? Churches often refer to their volunteer groups as “teams”. I think that this is a great way to get people’s focus on the right track. As members of the global church we are all on the same “team”. This doesn’t mean that we have to agree on everything. Lord knows not everyone on a baseball team will agree on which batting order is the best. Not everyone on a football team will agree on whether the 4-3 or the 3-4 is the better defense to run. And not everyone on a Basketball team will agree on who should get the ball the most. (Unless Derrick Rose is on your team.) Every team, even the great ones will always have disagreement. Even thought there is disagreement on some practices, the team must lay their personal preferences aside in the name of unity and success. The church must do the same.
The point is that public disagreement on non-salvation issues are by and large a waste of our time and influence. Using scripture to publicly argue with another Christian is like throwing a punch at your teammate in the dugout with all of the cameras on. It makes the team look bad. People become suspicious and begin to assume that nobody on the team is in agreement and the whole organization is in turmoil. Unless someone is making a claim stating that there is another way to salvation that isn’t through Jesus, the fight is not necessary.
In today’s world, people are searching for any form of stability. Families are falling apart, the economy is failing and violent revolutions and riots are running rampant in the middle east, Europe and even in isolated incidents in America. Shouldn’t we, as servants of the One certain and great hope of the world be mindful of how we interact with one another? Our public disagreements paint a picture of instability for the whole world to see.
I call for a ceasefire in the church. Stop arguing. If you have a question about what someone has said or done, take it to them behind closed doors. The argument does not need to be a public one. Jesus said that we will be recognized as His disciples by our love for one another, not by how fervently we can argue our theological statutes.
Let us leave or disagreements aside, and work together to complete the task set out for us by Jesus Christ himself.