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Heart Disease in the Body of Christ

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard

Every church has trouble sooner or later.Churches sometimes have difficulty getting enough members together to make up a quorum for a business meeting. But there’s one easy way to get far more than a quorum: Announce a moral scandal, a doctrinal controversy, or an impending church split. The sanctuary will be jammed with people.

Conflict always draws a crowd

Every church has problems, some large, some small, and every church faces a time of crisis sooner or later. You can’t avoid it completely, and you can’t always head it off at the pass. It doesn’t matter whether your church is young or old or what denomination it is or who the pastor is or what sort of church government you have. None of that cancels the reality that Christian people can sometimes act in very unchristian ways.Your church may have no serious problems at the moment. You may attend a congregation of Spirit-filled believers who love the Lord, love his Word, love each other, and love those outside the church. If that is true of your church, get on your knees and give thanks to God because it is all too rare.Increasingly one hears stories of churches torn apart because of controversy. News of trouble in a congregation quickly spreads through social media, blogs and anonymous emails. While the technology may be new, church conflict is as old as the New Testament. The early Christians often had a hard time getting along. If the book of James is (as I believe) the earliest New Testament book, it means Christians were having trouble in their local churches from the very beginning.

James 3:14-16 helps us understand how good churches go bad. By “good” I do not mean famous or large or rich or popular. Any church is a good church when the members love each other, love the Lord, love to worship, love the Word of God, love to serve, and love to share the Good News of Jesus with those who don’t know him. And even a happy, Spirit-filled, Christ-honoring congregation can end up in a bad place. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.

Yielding to worldly wisdom produces a kind of spiritual heart disease that destroys unity, kills joy, evaporates prayer, dulls the appetite for God’s Word, deadens worship, and turns the focus from winning the lost to winning the argument. With that in mind, let’s carefully consider this passage because we’re all in danger of harboring wrong attitudes. These three verses reveal the operation, the origin, and the outcome of heart disease in the body of Christ.

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Originally published June 29, 2017.

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