Those ‘Divisive’ Bible-believing Christians: Why Being Divisive is not so Bad After All…Good and Evil Division
I once had a Calvary Chapel pastor tell me that “truth always unites people”. I then asked him why Jesus said the following:
“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:51-53)
What about you? What does the Bible say about divisions?
Were you ever called “divisive” or a “troublemaker” for staying on the “narrow path”? For confronting lies and hypocrisies at church (or in the world)?
The Bible is clear that divisions happen when people of truth speak up against the error or status quo of the church (or world). Divisions also happen when people speak error. Notice the order of events in the following passages:
- Jesus opens his mouth and declares something truthful (with words).
- Some of the people agree.
- Some of the people disagree. Someone presents an error (with words).
- A division ensues. Some people love Jesus. Some people hate Jesus.
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. When they heard these words, some of the people said, ‘This really is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But some said, ‘Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?’ So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.” (John 7:37-44)
What caused the division here?
Was it the truth, or was it a lie? We actually see the same exact pattern in the following passage, two chapters later:
“They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.’ Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?’ And there was a division among them. So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.'” (John 9:13-17)
The Pharisees divided people too.
I would not recommend being divisive in a false sense. For example, creating a division based on a lie or compromise is not right. In other words, creating a division based on a legalistic rule or man-made tradition is far from good. This is what the ancient Pharisees did. Many modern cults shun their critics as “divisive” when it is the cult that is being divisive in the evil sense. Still, the fact is that words – words of error and words of truth – have the potential to result in divisions.
Next time you get condemned for opening your mouth, consider the division. Is the division that ensues based on the truth spoken or error spoken? There is definitely a right and wrong way to divide. Make sure you are on the right path – the side of truth – when you reach the fork in the road.
A personal story.
I will give you an example from my own life. There was a time in my past when I noticed that a group of professing Christian authors I was working with (on a book) stole intellectual property on a large scale. They took the property from over forty other authors and creators without giving credit where credit was due. They changed the titles on each publication and claimed that they were the original publishers. I confronted the matter and corrected it with the truth and love. I did exactly what Jesus did in the above passages:
- I opened my mouth and declared something truthful (which exposed an error).
- Some of the people agreed.
- Some of the people disliked the truth presented.
- A division ensued. Some people still loved me. Some people hated me. This exposed error created more work for the group as they had to go and fix the errors in their book and their forum. The group quickly presented an error or twist on the truth (with words) in an email, and they falsely signed someone’s name to the email even after the person specifically asked not to be included in the matter. I was quickly fired from the book within twenty-four hours of telling them I would have mercy on their intellectual property mistake if they fixed it.
- Spiritual abuse, anger and hatred ensued from the people on the side of the error.
What kind of spiritual abuse? The female ministers copied me on some emails which contained some abusive words. They blocked me (without cause) from three “Christian” forums which excluded me from my friends, gossiped behind my back on the forums, and blocked me from their personal pages for no cause. They stonewalled my attempts to contact them on the phone to reason, make peace and reconcile, and outright refused for many days to give me a signature signing off on my legal copyright of the chapter I worked on for nine months. One person created a fake Facebook account and profile, and somehow managed to do some trolling and leave concerning comments on a graduate school forum I paid to belong to. I never got a signature signing off on my research and chapter. Stonewalling is a psychological tactic which goes against Christ’s law of love (intellectual property theft also goes against the law of love). I loved the writers in that group, but after I brought up the plagiarism concern, every one of them refused to speak with me again.
I knew that anger might ensue if I spoke up, but I wanted to obey God and do what He showed me. It felt cultic.
If you ponder these Scriptures, you will be able to see a similar pattern and dynamic in your own whistle-blowing situations. In this situation, who is the “divisive” party in the evil sense? Is it the one who confronted and exposed the theft? Or, is it the party that did the stealing? In this case, there is a division based on truth and a division based on error. One is righteous, and one is not. Or, we can view it from the angle that the truth did not divide at all. We can view the situation from the standpoint that it was the error itself – resistance to the truth – that did the dividing.
In God’s Kingdom, true and false are contemporaries. There are true and false apostles, true and false teachers, true and false teachings, true and false unity, true and false division, and so forth. We need to figure out which side we are on: the truth or the error. We must make sure that if there is a divide, we are on the side of the truth.
There was a blessing in this divide. Like a light shining on the darkness, I got to see who my true friends are. The fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh became manifest. After the closed door, I was presented with an even better, open door. It was a better path.
I want this post to encourage you to speak up for what is right without shame. You will be faced with situations – forks in the road – that will require you to make a choice between error and truth, between darkness and light, and between the world and God. I want you to be bold in declaring the truth and warning even if there comes a divide. This is the “narrow path”. Also, look for the blessing in the divide when it comes. God works in mysterious ways. The divide may be painful, but look for the blessing in disguise.
Friends, when a leader calls you ‘divisive’, please remember something. More often than not, this is a psychological control tactic to get you to remain silent. Why did people hate Paul? They hated him because of his truthful words. Paul asked, “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16).
Some words that cause divisions are not so bad after all, eh?
“And indeed, there must be differences [divisions] among you to show which of you are approved.” (1 Cor. 11:19; Emphasis mine)