The evangelical church today can hardly be defined by joy; there’s so much fighting, discord and animosity in churches today, that it’s a far cry from what God desired, said pastor John MacArthur.
The influential pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in California was speaking to a large group of church leaders last week at the Shepherds’ Conference, where he called the issue of unity one of the “many concerns” he has.
“Not only are individual churches very often divided, cantankerous, full of factions, animosity and anger but it seems to me that the entire evangelical church is like that — fragmented, split up, hostile, even angry,” he said. “This is a far cry from what our Lord desired when He said the world would know us by our love.”
Division in the church is nothing new, MacArthur acknowledged, as the Apostle Paul addresses it in the New Testament. Paul tried to point believers toward unity for the sake of joy.
“It’s an obvious thing to say the church should be the most joyful assembly of human beings on the planet, right?” MacArthur posed. “Because our eternity is settled.”
But that isn’t the case, he lamented.
“I don’t know if I were an unbeliever looking at the evangelical church today, that I would conclude that it’s marked by joy,” he said.
“Do I need to say the church is divided? Do I need to say churches and the Church is dysfunctional, that it is morbidly and internally hostile to itself in so many cases?” he posed.
“Do we need to say that evangelical Christianity is fractured into all kinds of identity groups that are all demanding their moment in the sun and that everybody pay attention to them and give them what they think they deserve? Do I need to remind you that there are more victim categories than there are victims, and everybody’s been abused and everybody’s been offended? And the price you pay for that is no joy.”
How do churches get to a place of joy as Paul spoke about in Philippians 1? Through unity, MacArthur stressed.
The only way to achieve unity is to be of “one mind,” he pointed out. That means, “it is not inclusive.”
“It is exclusive,” he said.
It excludes those who are “enemies of the cross” — namely, those who propagate and hold to doctrinal error and those in sin, the pastor explained.
And those of “one mind” — the redeemed — must strive together for the faith of the Gospel, he added, citing Paul.
“All the bickering and all the backbiting and all the internal fighting stops when the real enemy shows up,” he said.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Sheryl Lynn