I was recently asked the question, “Why does the church world focus on their differences more than their agreements?” and it really made me pause and search my own heart and mind and to seriously consider why “churches” (which usually means pastor or hierarchy in the church or lay people) focus so much on differences. Differences of preference, style, parsing words here and there, tactics, ministry, theology to a point and so many other open-handed issues. As I was pondering that question, I came across a passage in my personal study time on providing for the home (I am preaching an in-church series called “House of Cards” right now) that unbeknownst to me, would answer that question in my mind!
As I was crafting a point in my message on supplying for your household, I read 2 Thessalonians 5:10 and realized, that is where we normally stop reading this verse. However, the very next verse hit me like a ton of bricks and so I kept reading the next few verses and here is what the bible says and how it answers this question I was asked.
“11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”
The reason why someone becomes a “busybody” as verse 11 says, is because they actually are not busy with what they are supposed to be doing and by definition “meddle” in the affairs of others. The reason why so many pastors, lay people, -insert whoever you want here- are so busy focusing on differences of others…is because they are not busy doing anything that matters for the Kingdom. It is very easy to get stuffed up in an office parsing the online sermons of someone like Steven Furtick to see if you think his theology matches up with yours and then tweeting about how a thought he had doesn’t fit your biblical intellect on a matter, but it is harder to get alone with God and seek His face continually, be a model example to the fatherless, visit the widow and the orphan, focus on feeding your sheep good food, rule well your own home and let “those that are without” see Jesus in you! I have seen people actually more concerned with Perry Noble running 45K than their church running 45. SERIOUSLY?? This is how the church JESUS DIED FOR is supposed to conduct itself??? I don’t care if a church has 34 or 3,400 or 34,000, when your time is spent focusing on how some other pastor/church is wrong, you need to find something productive to do because you have more time to make a difference in the now that you are wasting! Oh…and by the way, if you are always talking down another man of God and meddling in affairs that do not affect you, I should just drop verse 14 on you and probably block your calls for a while!
In my sermon Sunday I spoke about relationships with God and I said this “When your relationship with God focuses on someone else’s relationship with God, you don’t have much of a relationship with God.” The focus on differences many times isn’t so much about purity, ideology, theology and practicality, it actually stems from laziness and by “railing” against “others”, it keeps people from looking and thinking at how little work is actually being accomplished. As long as we have something “bad” to fight, it keeps people from looking for the “good” we should be doing!
In closing, Pastors and lay people, let’s take this as a charge to watch our mouths and our own affairs and pray for each other. As a bi-vocational pastor, I’m glad to say I don’t have time to sit and meddle in someone else’s affairs to see if they dot every “i” and cross every “t” the same way I do. I would much rather be “about my Father’s business” and my mind be like Paul said in Philippians, “Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice”.