Romans 16: Division Is More Than Disagreement
The other night I was at a Bible study, and we were talking about the strong words that Paul uses to address those who cause division among the church in Titus. Today in Romans 16 there is another example of Paul stressing the problems of division among Christians.
Rom 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
Rom 16:18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
First of all, an objection. Does this mean that Christians need to be blind followers? Absolutely not. We should avoid people who cause division, but we should also avoid people who teach the Bible incorrectly to serve their own purposes. In situations like that, then it seems to be the case that a division or parting of the ways is justified.
However, we have thousands of churches all over this country, and there are some legitimate differences between denominations which are fine. After all, we don’t have to agree on everything, but in our disagreement, we do not want a division. We ought to still recognize that we are family and are one day going to participate in the largest worship service together whether or not we do that here on earth. For example, I am certainly not a Methodist, but I fully intend to be hanging out with plenty of Methodists for all of eternity. Do we agree on all issues here on earth? Probably not. However, are there plenty of Methodists who have called upon the Lord for their salvation? Absolutely.
Also, we don’t want division within any particular church body. Again, we might not agree on everything. However, we don’t want that to become a division that causes discord among the family of God. The Bible never tells us that we cannot have differences of opinion (except on certain spiritual truths such as the resurrection and deity of Jesus Christ among others). Nevertheless, it does tell us that we should not cause division. It might seem like a subtle difference, but when Paul brings it up multiple times to multiple churches or individuals, perhaps it would be wise for us to take notice.