It can be safely said that, since the birth of the church on Pentecost, for every opinion expressed there have been divisions in the body of Christ. Professing followers of Jesus always have and always will struggle with temptation and sin until the day we are glorified in Heaven with the Savior. Prior to being redeemed, sin permeated every last aspect of our nature. We were enslaved to it, there was nothing we did or thought that was without its foul taint. Yet, in Christ, we have been set free, no longer slaves to the passions that drove us. From that day until we are called home, we go through the process of sanctification. We are changed day by day, being purged and purified. God brings our sins to the surface so that we might repent and be changed. This takes a lifetime, and it is hardly an easy journey.
With that said, we must understand that divisions in the church come as a result of sinful pride. Were we already perfected in our flesh, we would all rightly understand the Word of God and we never would be in disagreement. However, given our lack of perfect comprehension, we must understand that as we grow in knowledge, so we can also grow in our pride. We are prone to lifting ourselves and our accomplishments up high. So, when we begin to grasp the greater and deeper truths of scripture, there is a great temptation to act as though this knowledge was gained of our own accord. And as doctrine becomes more open to us, we begin to have disdain for the shallowness of understanding in which we once walked.
If you have ever engaged in doctrinal discussions, especially on the internet, you know just how easy a rigorous debate can transform into a vile argument with character assassinations and name calling in abundance. Sadly, much of the public face of Christianity today, especially in the arena of social media, has reflected this. I am not referring to the debates between liberal or false theology and sound doctrine. Those debates will clearly be contentious as though who seek to downplay biblical truth will almost always engage in emotional rhetoric in order to claim victory. Rather, what I am referring to are the heated arguments between Christians who fall within diverse, but orthodox, doctrinal views. Such debates can be necessary to help us grow and understand the nature of God and the Christian faith. However, pride in our doctrinal stances can often result in a lack of grace being shown to our brethren. It doesn’t take long for us to move from debate, to argument, to anathematization of one another when pride gets in the way.