Keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances
Romans 16:10-27 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
17 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such people are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 19 For the report of your obedience has reached everyone; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.
21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you, and so do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen.
22 I, Tertius, who have written this letter, greet you in the Lord.
23 Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, greets you, and Quartus, the brother.
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now has been disclosed, and through the Scriptures of the prophets, in accordance with the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.
In today’s text it says: Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such people are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. For the report of your obedience has reached everyone; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. In the short time after Jesus had ascended to heaven, there were already divisions arising in the church. In Galatians 5:19-21 Paul wrote: Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, indecent behavior, idolatry, witchcraft, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. In 1 Corinthians 1:10 he says: Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. Two thousand years later, we have even more division, more dissension and more factions in the church and indeed these cause hindrances. In John 13:34-35 Jesus says: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another.” That is the hindrance, there is so much division in the church today that people do not know who the disciples of Christ really are. The testimony of the church is diminished because of the division in the church.
There is a joke attributed to Emo Philips which while very funny, sadly captures the extent of the division that exists in the church today. It goes like this: Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump.
I said, ‘Don’t do it!’ He said, ‘Nobody loves me.’
I said, ‘God loves you. Do you believe in God?’ He said, ‘Yes.’
I said, ‘Are you a Christian or a Jew?’ He said, ‘A Christian.’
I said, ‘Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?’ He said, ‘Protestant.’
I said, ‘Me, too! What franchise?’ He said, ‘Baptist.’
I said, ‘Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?’ He said, ‘Northern Baptist.’
I said, ‘Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?’ He said, ‘Northern Conservative Baptist.’
I said, ‘Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?’ He said, ‘Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.’
I said, ‘Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?’ He said, ‘Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.’
I said, ‘Die, heretic!’ And I pushed him over.
When we focus on the little things that are different, rather than on all that we agree on, we create division, factions and hindrances to the body of Christ. Jesus taught us to pray saying: Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The world is filled with division and with those who intentionally divide. The church should mirror heaven, not earth. We should be those who both represent and bring, the realities of heaven to earth. In addition to teaching us to pray, in John 17:13-26, when Jesus prayed in the garden before He was arrested, He prayed for unity. “…now I am coming to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them away from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. Just as You sent Me into the world, I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, so that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I am not asking on behalf of these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” 1 John 4:15-21 says: Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, we also are in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and yet he hates his brother or sister, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother and sister whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God must also love his brother and sister. We cannot be united with Christ and divided from His body, the church.
There is only one God. There is only one King. There is only one Body. That is why we sing: Bind us together, Lord, Bind us together with cords That cannot be broken. Bind us together, Lord, Bind us together, Bind us together with love. Amen.