This morning, for some reason, I see so clearly how the powers of darkness are working to destroy the church. It’s so simple, it’s amazing we have fallen for it for so long. The darkness comes in like a worm, slithering its way into any tiny crack, nudging and pushing until the crack becomes a split and the split becomes a chasm. Division. That is the power of the enemy. And he’s been doing this for a long time.
Party 1: A nagging thought. Something someone said is buzzing through their brain and they’re not 100% sure they know what it meant.
Party 2: A nagging thought. They said something to Party 1 and they’re not sure it was taken the right way, or maybe that they should have said it at all.
Party 1: Instead of going to Party 2 and just asking what they meant when they said, “X”, they have imaginary conversations in their mind. The worm tells them that it would be a bad idea to talk to Party 2 and so instead they talk to everyone else about the situation.
Party 2: Instead of going to Party 1 and apologizing or trying to clarify what they said, OR APOLOGIZING (I know I said it twice), they act as if everything is totally okay, and begin distancing themselves subtly from Party 1. The worm tells them that “really they didn’t say anything wrong and if Party 1 is hurt by that, they are just being sensitive”.
Party 1 has now become hurt and angry by: first, the hurtful thing that was initially said, and second, by the nonchalant way that Party 2 has handled everything, including talking about this situation with everyone but them. They no longer want to have anything to do with Party 2, whom they now believe is legitimately evil.
Party 2 has now become hurt and angry by: first, having what they initially said blown way out of proportion, and second, by the way Party 1 is now talking about them to all their shared friends, causing people to have to choose sides. They no longer want to have anything to do with Party 1, whom they now believe is legitimately evil.
The Worm continues to speak to both parties, encouraging them to remain prideful, discouraging them from talking about the problem with each other, helping them to forget that loving your neighbor as yourself is one of the tenets of Christianity.
Pride: it’s something I write about a lot because I truly believe it is the number one tool of the Worm. If we are full of pride and full of concern about our “rights”, the Worm can work with that. Easily. If we are more concerned with being the one who is in the right than we are about trying to make the situation right, the Worm will use that to continue dividing us from one another until the Split becomes a Chasm, with Parties and their supporters lined up on either side, hurling insults at each other.
A church split isn’t a separation of two groups with competing ideals, it’s a gaping hole with wounded people struggling to climb out of the abyss. And the split begins as a tiny crack, that Party 1 and Party 2 are too prideful to try to repair. Many of Jesus’ counter-cultural parables centered on figures who forgave when they didn’t have to, helped others when it was not easy or convenient for them, laid down their pride to better those around them. So how do we miss this most basic teaching? How do we let a crack become a chasm?
The Worm: the prince of darkness who lives in the shadow realm, is waiting for opportunities to exploit our most basic human weaknesses, our pride and selfishness. Yes, he encourages the division that is destroying us but the tools he uses are of our own making.
I’ve seen a lot of division in the church in my short 36 years on this Earth. And this division I’m talking about has been going on for centuries, and it is well documented. Even as far back as Paul and Barnabas.
36 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” 37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Did they part because they prayed and felt that God wanted them to each go a different way and further His gospel? No. They parted because they were being stubborn and prideful, each believing they knew what was right.
The Worm. His work is evident.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul said this! My friends, even respected leaders mess up.
This summer I have, once again, felt the painful caress of division, like a sword, maiming but not killing. I have been Party 1 and I have been Party 2. I’ve been stubborn, prideful, arrogant, unforgiving, angry, hurt, wounded, beaten, broken, a real jerk, and a real innocent. I have played all the parts and felt all the stings.
But I don’t want to be manipulated by this worm anymore. Even though I feel as though my heart has physically been ripped from my chest and set on fire on top of a pile of broken glass, I don’t want to play the games this worm has contrived anymore. I don’t know how, but what I want more than anything is to walk in humility towards others. I want to lay down my pride and pray together and work things out. But I can’t do it alone. Even if one party is willing to try, if the other is closed off, it will not work.
So this is my declaration: I am here and I am willing to talk and pray and try to work things out. I don’t want my pride to get in the way. I don’t want the worm to win. I don’t want to see lives hurt and wounded and beaten and broken. If you are with me, if you are willing to work through any hurt we have between us, please call me. I will sit with you and pray with you and hopefully, together we will find a place of agreement again, even if we no longer walk the same path.
My friends, don’t let The Worm have his way. Don’t let him nudge his way into that tiny crack. Let’s all lay down our pride together.
35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.