When it comes to disunity in the church, the question is not if, but when. Churches are made up of imperfect people who will always find a way to have a difference of opinion. This perpetual problem forces thoughtful church leaders to ask the probing question, “Where is this disunity coming from?”
Sometimes the struggle comes from practical issues like building usage and spending money. The decisions made in real time about the day-to-day operations of a church can be very challenging. When a church is unclear about the direction of its ministries, its members are forced to take sides on a growing list of issues.
Culture can also play a part in church conflict. Maybe the demographics around the church have changed radically in recent years. Maybe there is a strong desire in the church to retain specific traditions. The bottom line is that the culture in and around the church can have a significant impact on congregational harmony.
But what should believers do if they can’t solve disunity issues through these avenues? In the 4th chapter of James, we learn that sometimes the reason for disunity in the church is spiritual. In this passage, James lists 3 spiritual reasons for disunity in the early church. The first issue is a pattern of self-centered prayer that springs from a me-first mentality. The second issue is misplaced loyalty. The third issue is the unchecked arrogance that goes along with a works-based view of salvation. This false approach to salvation puts all the emphasis on what we can accomplish for God.
James helps us to see that sometimes disunity comes from a hidden source – the human heart. If the issue isn’t practical, theological, or cultural, it just might be coming from a spiritual source. This is something we all need to keep an eye on as we strive to serve the Lord together in unity.