One of the best ways to say “I love you” in the midwest without using those words specifically is to say, “Watch out for deer” when someone is leaving your house in the evening. This is a phrase that is so common, especially in the summer months when deer are more willing to wander further distances before there are plenty of crops to munch on. Ask anyone who has ever hit a deer: the damages to any vehicle can be severe. It is devastating. So, although it is obvious that it is not ideal to hit a deer, nor would anyone want that, we still remind one another to watch out for them. It’s a simple way to show concern to something that is an all too common experience.
The Apostle Paul does just this when he is closing out his letter to the Romans. In Romans 16 he says to the church, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites” (Romans 16:17-18). We all know instinctively that division is not a good thing. Division causes pain and strife in any family, but we see this specifically in the family of God. Just like in the summer months we ought to watch out for deer, so we need to be on guard against people whose goals are to cause divisions and create obstacles. This type of behavior is found in a person who is not interested in growing God’s kingdom by sharing the gospel. Rather, this type of person is interested in dividing God’s kingdom into different sections. Paul further explains the type of people who are always dividing: they are interested in serving themselves and not the Lord Jesus.
We live in a time where politics and culture are always in the forefront of people’s minds. It is hard to take in any form of media without having some type of political statement attached to it. The division that is caused by the polarizing view of politics is something that can be avoided in the church almost altogether. I say almost altogether because there are issues that Christians should vocally stand for such as being pro-life. A majority of political issues fall under the category of “opinion” however. I heard it said well recently that the Apostle Paul could have filled his letters with news concerning the Roman empire. But he didn’t. He spent his time and efforts sharing the good news of the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus. We need to be on guard from anything that divides the body of Christ, and to seek unity in the body of Christ. Especially when the divisions are created over opinions, and not because of a dissent in sound doctrine. Division should be avoided as best as we can. We should never roll over because it is easier, nor should we have a church split because it would be easier. We should make every effort to keep the family of God in a unified stance. We are stronger and better together. The kingdom grows because of our common faith. Let’s grow God’s kingdom together and not divide it into smaller pieces.
- Seek to build in unity with those around you and don’t become divided away from other people on the basis of opinions.
- Watch out for people who seek to make divisions in the church for their own gain.
- To remember Christ wants us to be unified in his body and to rejoice in the unity
in faith that we all share.