PLYMOUTH, MI – Imagine at 10:00 PM tomorrow night you open the front door to your home, and the County Sheriff’s Department informs you that your dearest loved-one was in a severe car accident.
Imagine that as you walk into the lobby of the local hospital a friend working on the ambulance calls out your name, hugs you, and whispers into your ears, “It’s one of the worst accidents I’ve ever seen. If something isn’t done quickly, they’re not going to make it.”
You stiffen-up in fear as you walk toward the emergency department. You plead with the woman at the desk to tell you something about your loved one. The woman in the pink sweater shivering against the cold air coming from the air conditioning vent sees the fear in your eyes, and she urges you to go straight to surgery-waiting. She leans-in and whispers, “Surgery was immediately ordered due to the severe injuries. Hurry. You’re in my prayers.”
As you come to the surgical area you check-in with the receptionist who assures you that your loved one is behind the doors in pre-op. You measure the time when you know the accident occurred, and you ask in an urgent voice, “What do you mean they’re in pre-op? The accident occurred over an hour ago. I was told the ambulance arrived here 45-minutes ago. I was told injuries are life-threatening. Why isn’t someone doing something, right now?”
The receptionist silently gestures, with a glance of her eyes, and a tilt of her head to the medical professionals down the hall standing outside of the surgical area. You walk with a determined step toward the small group clad in surgical clothing who are talking over one another in loud, angry voices and irritated expressions on their faces. You cannot believe what you hear, coming from their mouths, as you freeze in your tracks.
“I’m in charge when we go in there, the patient’s condition requires my attention first.”
“No, I’m in charge, I’ve had surgical privileges in the hospital long before you got here.”
“I’m tired of working with all of you. Not one of you can get along with the other.”
“I don’t know why I continue to work here. No one treats me with respect.”
“Go ahead and quit. All you’ve done since coming here is change things. Leave!”
How would you feel knowing your loved one was on the brink of life or death while the medical professionals debated? What would go through your mind as you replayed their comments without seeing them move toward rescuing your loved one from pain and death? What actions might you take listening to the medical professionals stop the care for your loved one while they argued about their preferences and feelings?
It may seem absurd to you that a group of medical professionals would delay a life-saving surgery because of their disagreements or debates. But let me ask you a pivotal question: “Does it seem equally absurd that God’s people would allow conflict over personal preferences and traditions to interfere with the life-saving message of the good news of Jesus Christ? It should.
When God’s people forget to keep the Gospel above-all and divisions are left unaddressed:
Lost people in the community will not hear the good news of Christ because the Christians are too busy fighting one another.
Family members and friends will not come to church because they hear the complaints at home.
Unsaved spouses will grow even more skeptical of the Christian faith, and remain far from knowing God’s grace.
Christians will remain spiritual babies focusing on their selfish needs because they see other Christians focused on their convenience and comfort.
Maturing, serving Christians will find another church to attend where they see meaningful engagements with a lost world.
Please, consider the following words from the Bible:
1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
Proverbs 6:16-19 – There are six things the Lord hates — no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family (italics added to clarify the point).
How is the health of the church you attend? Is conflict or the fear of conflict hindering the effectiveness of the church? Are you the one sowing discord in the church? Call me, Tony Lynn, if you want to talk: (734) 770-0608.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.