Nip It in the Bud
Categories: Tuck's Blog
Starting a quarrel is easy… stopping one is another matter altogether. Disputes take on a life of their own once the match has been lit. Solomon says that the best way to stop a quarrel is before it starts, “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. (Proverbs 7:14). Or in the words of that great theologian Barney Fife, “You’ve got to nip it in the bud!” But sometimes the bud just refuses to be nipped. What do we do when the dam breaks and the flood of dispute begins its path of destruction? One thing we must do is to remind ourselves that dispute, disharmony and debate over differences displeases our God. To love to quarrel is to love sin.
Gene Shelburne conducted a seminar for us years ago based on his book The Quest for Unity. To borrow a line from Jim McQuiggen, “Every Christian ought to be forced to read this book… if they want to!” One chapter describes the price Gene’s father paid because he dared to seek unity with brothers and sisters many had dismissed as heretics. Powerful men made it a mission to discredit him. Lies were spread, churches were bullied into breaking all ties, and colleagues distanced themselves from him. His sin was to preach that Jesus intended his call to unity to be taken seriously. Shelburne says this—
Have you noticed that just about any great reconciler you can name in any era of the Christian faith has been heckled and hounded and harassed by the very people he is trying to unite? People who stand up for unity always seem to draw fire. Usually from their own people. They get “fragged” by their own troops, to borrow an ugly metaphor from Vietnam. (The Quest for Unity, page 54)
Paul was the most influential missionary the church has ever known, but church leaders of his day saw him as a dangerous influence. His most damaging opposition wasn’t from outside the church; it was from other Christians. Why? Paul preached UNITY between Jewish and Gentile believers. Almost everyone SAYS unity is important, but unity is always the messy business that comes down to sacrifice, compromise and selflessness. Shelburne points out and Paul models, it’s always easier to shoot the messenger than to take unity seriously.
This is a bit of irony, isn’t it? When we start taking the unity of all believers seriously, it tends to stir up things a bit. Jesus came to bring us unity with God, and look where that led Him