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Fulton County Gospel News

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Trouble in the Church

By Barry O'Dell

Trouble has existed in the world since Adam and Eve decided to rebel against God’s specific command (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:6).  Their home was later troubled with jealousy and murder (Gen. 4:1-8).  Homes were further troubled when the practice of polygamy was introduced to the world (Gen. 4:19).  Trouble remained in the world as “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).  In His anger and grief, God determined to cleanse the world of its corruption (Gen. 6:6-7).  Trouble would come again after the flood of Noah’s day when men began to corrupt themselves in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 13:13; 18:20).  As nation’s developed more wealth and power, we find the practices of slavery, war, and oppression (Ex. 1:7-14).  Even God’s nation, Israel, had its share of trouble in the forms of immorality, idolatry, and willful ignorance (2 Kgs. 17).  The Old Testament is full of examples of individuals and nations that brought trouble upon themselves as a direct result of their choices.

What about the New Testament?  All one has to do is read a verse such as Matthew 26:67 which says, “Then did they spit in His face, and buffeted (beat) Him: and others smote Him with the palms of their hands.”  The student of the Bible knows that this verse is describing the treatment that Jesus was receiving the night before He was crucified.  John recorded that Jesus had been arrested by a band (detachment – NKJ) of troops (Jn. 18:3).  The word that the Holy Spirit used is a Greek term that meant 600 soldiers!  Matthew simply stated that He was arrested by a “great multitude with swords and staves” (Matt. 26:47).  These were the men who were spitting on, beating, and slapping Jesus repeatedly!  Jesus was very well familiar with the fact that trouble is a reality in this world.

What about God’s people today?  Sadly, it is the case that trouble still exists for those who strive to follow the will of God.  We have been warned that this would happen (2 Tim. 3:12).  It should not be a surprise to us when trouble comes (1 Pet. 4:12-16).  The Timothy and Peter passages refer to external forces that face God’s people because of righteous living, not because of sinful activities.  What is far worse, in this writer’s opinion, is when trouble exists among God’s people because of actions taken or words spoken by members of God’s family.  False teachers can cause trouble in the Lord’s church (2 Pet. 2:1-3).  Immoral conduct can cause trouble among God’s people (1 Cor. 5).  Competition and a desire for preeminence can cause trouble within the church (3 Jn. 9-11).   What is the solution to such problems in the church?  Simply put, God’s people must be more concerned about God’s will and work than their own.  Paul wrote, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cling to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another” (Rom. 12:9-10).  First Peter 2:17 instructs us to “Love the brotherhood.”  Whatever we do is all to be done “to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).  Paul commanded the Romans, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Rom. 14:19).  Unity can be attained in the body of Christ!  Jesus prayed for it (Jn. 17:20-21) and Paul commanded it (1 Cor. 1:10).  The key to diminishing trouble in the church and between individuals is found in John 17:14 and 17: “I have given them Thy word…Thy word is truth.”  Each child of God has responsibility in this area.  The church is the body of Christ and we are members of one another (Rom. 12:5).  To each of us the Bible says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18).  If there is trouble in the church, do not be the cause – be a source of encouragement and strength for those who are struggling.   

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