Old Colony Mennonite Churches hold a very strict view in regards to what the life of a member looks like.
The views of the church leadership has gone unchanged in hundreds of years and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The views are biblical, although one could argue dogmatic. Their members believe the Bible, Jesus and hold to traditions started by early church fathers.
By all accounts the Old Colony church is a God fearing church and I have no doubt that many of it’s members already have their names written in the Book of Life.
That being said, Old Colony churches have not gone without their fair share of church controversies. Leaders have left and started their own churches, members have gone with them. Ministers have gotten themselves entangled in adulterous affairs, some have stolen money and others stray so far from the Word that one could wonder where on earth his teaching even comes from.
Now, you should know I’m not trying to knock Old Colony for their shortcomings, I’m only trying to show you that the same thing that has plagued churches all around the world has also been a problem in churches with very strong foundations – sin.
Sin has a way of creeping in and dividing us, remember sin doesn’t come from God and our tendency to downplay it doesn’t help. Make no mistake friends, sin comes from the devil and it is demonic. That’s why we need to pray hard and prevent it from coming in and destroying our churches.
At the root of any church disagreement or church split is sin, someone’s sin. Whether that be the unwillingness to listen from the church leadership or the pride filled hearts of it’s members. At the end of the day, a church fight is brought about by sin.
That’s why I’ve listed a few ways we can combat sin and prevent it from coming in and destroying our relationships, our churches and our lives.
- DON’T LET WHAT YOU’VE BEEN TAUGHT PREVENT YOU FROM LEARNING
Human nature dictates that we believe what we hear first. For example, as a teen I learned that baptism was something you did before you got married, and you did it so that you could get married. Years later I learned baptism was never intended to be a stepping stone to marriage, the two events should be mutually exclusive. It was hard to stop thinking of baptism in this way, for so long this is how I saw people approach marriage and I heard it taught that way, when I realized that God didn’t see it that way, I almost didn’t believe it.
Similar scenarios can be seen played out it churches across the country as people open their Bibles and read them for the first time instead of just hearing what others have been saying and preaching.
Having someone teach you is great! But remember that they too are human and therefore prone to failure. They can make mistakes, misinterpret scripture and like everyone else they read through the lens of a biased personal experience. I’m not saying you can’t trust people, I receive teaching from several people whom I trust but that doesn’t mean I just take what they say without question, if something seems off or different than what I thought, I always go back to God’s Word.
That’s all I’m saying we do, always go to the Word, no matter who says it, even me… especially me. Not only is that the Biblical way to deal with what may become a disagreement, it’s prudent and wise and it’ll give you peace of mind.
- PRAY NOT THAT GOD IS ON YOUR SIDE, BUT THAT YOU ARE ON HIS
This one is key, we like to pray for ourselves and that others will come to see the light and be just as good a Christian as us. Often times we pray as if standing on a pedestal, “help him and her and forgive so’n’so and thanks for all my blessings” and we so conveniently forget about our own shortcomings.
In other words, we like to pray that God is on our side, in our corner or that He is the genie in a bottle that we summon only when we need Him.
When Jesus taught us how to pray it was not so much about us, but about God – “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
I know I’m guilty of doing this, making prayer about me that is. Prayer is not about convincing God to bless us, or about moving Him in our direction. It’s about moving us in His direction, thanking Him for being who He is, not what He gives us. And yes, thanking Him for what He gave us in Jesus.
- CONSIDER THE FACT THAT YOU ARE THE ONE IN THE WRONG
This is probably the hardest thing to learn and then accept. If you’re like me and you’re stubborn and can’t possibly be wrong then this is a lesson learned hard.
I don’t back down, ask my wife, even when I eventually realize that I was the one in the wrong, I never admit it. This benefits no one and truly is a credit to my wonderful wife.
For those of you who think you have this quality, think again. Few people do and even fewer practice it on a regular basis, but if you are one of those few, than kudos to you! Teach us, please!?
Sarcasm aside, do whatever it takes to say the words “I’m wrong”. Consider the possibility that whomever you’re fighting with is right and even if they aren’t right about every aspect of the argument, they are about parts of it. Admit those parts, admit where you’re wrong, this is the fastest way to reconciliation and moving forward. More often than not, when you admit you’re wrong, the other person will follow suit. Admitting guilt is a leadership quality and when you lead, others will follow.
- AGREE TO DISAGREE
The Bible is not always crystal clear about what to do. I believe that this is for a reason, even if I’m not entirely sure what that reason is. Perhaps it’s to grow our faith, build our character or maybe because not every issue is the same for every person.
In the case where you find yourself at odds with a fellow church member and you’ve both brought scripture to back you up and still can’t find a way to agree. Maybe it’s better to leave it at that – disagree.
Believe it or not but that’s also a biblical approach. In Acts chapter 15 a “sharp disagreement” arises between Paul and Barnabas and they end up parting ways. But because they couldn’t agree they decided that God’s work is better done apart and with grace than together and with contention.
We wanna make others see our way and agree with us, sometimes we’re so blinded by the pride of thinking we know better that we close our minds to the idea that we could be the ones in the wrong.
Do what it takes to stay open minded when someone has a view that differs from your own, you don’t know everything and they may just have stumbled onto something that you didn’t know was there.
We are one body, at least we’re supposed to be and when we disagree and it comes to a head we are a body divided against itself. And you know what Jesus said about that don’t you? Anyway, I hate seeing church splits and arguments and I think we should go to great lengths to prevent that from happening. However, there are times when that’s the only reasonable solution and if you find yourself in that position leave with grace and remember that the church your leaving still has members of Jesus’ body.
Thanks for reading!