Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Church Conflict devotion: We All Suffer - 1 Corinthians 12:26

1 Corinthians 12:26   If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

For almost a year, I've been part of a Presbytery team that has been in discussions with a small country charge which is seeking to leave the denomination. It’s been a heart-breaking process and one of the most painful pastoral duties I have ever had to do. The congregation wants to leave the PCUSA because the people cannot abide recent policies and decisions that the denomination has established. The wee church wants to cut all existing ties with our Presbytery and go elsewhere.

I understand how they feel, but I also grieve their eventual loss to the Presbytery. At a time when the brokenness of the world needs healed, the disunity of the overall church is making us ineffective across society. When one part of the body of Christ suffers and dismembers itself from the whole, pain is felt throughout the entire body. Instead of concentrating on our strengths, we are highlighting our differences. Instead of celebrating the unity of the Church, we are displaying a disunity that fragments witnessing to our faith.

I grieve the loss of the good people in that small congregation. I wish and pray that we could find areas of common ministry that would enable us to remain together. Sadly, pride gets in the way and passion for religious righteousness hinders any healing. In my heart, I believe that Jesus weeps over what we have become. Instead of truly being the body of Christ, we have created our own bodies; instead of advancing the peace, unity, and purity of the church, we have become enslaved to pride, unrest, and polarization. It’s a crying shame because together we have so much to offer to the world.

Questions for personal reflection

Why did Jesus establish the Church? Why does the world need us to be united in our work for God’s Kingdom?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, we are all sinners and not one of us is perfect or pure. Despite our failings, You still call us to serve You in the world. Please help us to stop focusing on the issues that divide us by making us celebrate the beliefs that we commonly share. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is a sinner who is grateful for His Savior. John serves Erin Presbyterian Church as its pastor. If you would like to comment or ask questions about today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s latest drawings called “Butterfly.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link:

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