“When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”—Mark 2:17
This verse seems very apropos at this time when so much tumult is going on in the world. However, I think it is even more appropriate and applicable to the Church—Christ’s Body of Believers—at this very time.
Let me begin with an analogy. I have a rare autoimmune disease (one of a few, actually) called Mixed Connective Tissue Disease. My body attacks itself and destroys healthy tissue and cells when it should be working in harmony with them to keep me healthy. With this infighting among my cells, I suffer with chronic pain and other health issues. The following definition provides a clear view of the process: “An autoimmune disorder occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake. …When you have an autoimmune disorder, your immune system does not distinguish between healthy tissue and antigens. As a result, the body sets off a reaction that destroys normal tissues.”
“Additionally, an autoimmune disorder may result in: the destruction of body tissue, abnormal growth of an organ, and changes in organ function.”
a close comparison
This seems to be quite similar to what is happening in our Church today. We are divided, polarized and antagonistic toward one another over various issues, whether it’s women’s ordination, veganism versus vegetarianism, the wearing of jewelry, the Trinity, or any other number of issues that strike at the core of our individual and corporate beliefs and cause us to become defensive and agitated.
But, I ask, is this how Christ would have His Church when He returns? Struggling over power, position and exhibiting such pride and stubbornness as I’ve observed among many lately? Is this how the early pioneers settled their differences when studying the Bible and forming our initial statements of faith? No; no, it most certainly is not!
Clearly, our Church has an autoimmune disease right now and we are attacking ourselves, destroying tissues and damaging organs of the Body. Because of this, the Body is not functioning as it should, or as it needs to, or as it was designed by God to do so. We need God’s healing touch—to be anointed by the Holy Spirit and healed of our infirmities.
forcing “rightness” is wrong
Being right about a position or doctrine (one that is clearly scriptural and understood and well defined) does not give any of us the license to “lord” it over our brothers or sisters or coerce them to conform to our beliefs, no matter how right they may or may not be. Jesus called us to love one another. Part of loving one another involves encouraging, exhorting, teaching and preaching for the purpose of leading someone to a saving relationship with Christ.
Love does not force our positions or beliefs on someone else for the sake of being “right.”
When this happens, as I have so often seen, being “right” can make one very wrong!
Why can’t we lovingly and respectfully discuss Bible subjects? Why can’t we cheerfully (or at least be pleasant about it!) agree to disagree on matters that are not clearly outlined in the Bible or that are not salvation issues? Why must we attack each other when disagreements arise? We are the same Body; we are not antigens to be fended off. We are supposed to be healthy tissues of the Body, working together in order that the Organ (the Body of Christ; the Church) can function optimally.
called by the Spirit
Brothers and sisters, the divisions among us are destroying our Church, our witness to the World, and our personal spiritual health as well. God has not given us permission to force our own beliefs on others—in or out of the Church. He has called us to “come and reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18) Let’s stop attacking each other which, in essence, is attacking ourselves, hence my analogy of the autoimmune disease.
I may have no choice but to live with the effects of my autoimmune disease until Jesus restores my health and gives me a new body at His soon return. The Church, however, has an opportunity right now, while we are still on this planet, while we still have a message to proclaim to a lost and dying world, to end this infighting—this autoimmune disease—within itself.
Let us call upon our Heavenly Father to forgive our sins of pride, selfish ambition, vainglory, agenda-driven focus, lack of respect for all individuals and any other sin that has led us to fight amongst each other, and pray that God will heal our Church and grant us more of His Spirit of love, joy, peace, kindness, compassion and cooperation with one another. Then, and only then, will we present to the World the life-changing, transforming power of Christ and God’s love for all His children.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”—2 Chronicles 7:14 Amen!
Samantha Nelson is a pastor’s wife and co-founder/CEO of The Hope of Survivors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting victims of clergy sexual abuse and educating clergy and congregations. She is also the author of Reaching the Hurting—A Biblical Guide for Helping Abuse Victims. In her limited free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband, the beauty of God’s creation, and spending time with her furry children—2 horses, 2 dogs and 1 cat.