By Nathanael Goh
Currently, the world population has approximately 7.8 billion people. It’s recorded that so-called Christianity has 2.4 billion followers. That’s about 30.77% of the world’s population! Now, let this data sink into our mind for a bit. It’s an impressive number isn’t it? That many people believe in Christianity. Well, if every single one of the 2.4 billion were following the truth and remain faithful until death, then it is truly an encouraging number even though there is still another 69.23% of the world’s population who don’t even believe in Christianity.
However, majority of these people from the statistics shown earlier aren’t what they seem to be. Most of them don’t even rely on the bible as their moral compass in life, but they proclaim to be Christians for various reasons but seeking the truth. Just imagine the number of actual Christians are only so few compared to the world population. Just as we look at these staggering figures, realizing how many people are still lost, Jesus also experienced the same thing as he saw the multitudes. We should also be moved by compassion for these people just as Jesus was and it should drive us to reach out to as many people as we can! “36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were [j]weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” Matthew 9:36. When Jesus said the harvest is plentiful, He meant there are so many people still lost in sin and the number of Christians who are supposed to do His will of reaching out to these people are still far too few. “37 Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few’” Matthew 9:37.
Realizing how there are very few labourers, it is crucial for this bunch to be united and to walk by the same rule, and to be of the same mind. “16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already [e]attained, let us walk by the same [f]rule, let us be of the same mind” Philippians 3:16. Normally, we will use 1 Corinthians 1:10 to help individuals from denominational backgrounds to realize the need of unity and how there shouldn’t be so many churches practicing different doctrines but this verse is also a very good reminder for us who are already followers of Christ to focus on being united as we walk this Christian journey together. “10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all [d]speak the same thing, and that there be no [e]divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” 1 Corinthians 1:10.
So, the problems that I will be discussing in this article will be the ones that causes us to be disunited:
PROBLEM #1: DIFFERENT MINDSET
“SPIRITUAL MINDSET VS CARNAL MINDSET”
One of the main problems faced by the church is members of different mindset. Some are stagnant in their spiritual growth which leads them to be more carnal-minded, creating a very serious problem for both parties – the church and that specific individual. We know at some point in our Christian life, we should reach a certain level of maturity where we ought to be teachers and to start sharing the gospel to those around us just like how we were taught. However, how are we going to share the gospel with others if we ourselves are lacking in spiritual growth to a point we need to be taught again the basic principles of the oracles of God. “12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the [a]oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are [b]of full age, that is, those who by reason of [c]use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” Hebrews 5:12-14. The harvest is plentiful and there is a need for more workers and that’s why we can’t waste time being stagnant in our spiritual growth for there’s much to do!
Another problem with being carnal-minded is there will be difficulties faced because of the different levels of understanding regarding any topic. The one who is more carnal-minded will look at things from the perspective of the world while the one who is more spiritual-minded will look at things according to the principles of the bible. How are these two conflicting views going to promote unity in the church? Paul wrote to the brethren in Corinth saying how he couldn’t speak to the brethren as spiritual people but as to carnal. That’s because of how the two conflicting mindset view matters and there won’t be a mutual understanding in that regard. And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and [a]behaving like mere men?” 1 Corinthians 3:1-3.
We all know that when we walk according to the flesh, we set our minds on the things of the flesh and that very fact divert us from our main purpose here on earth. We need to be reminded that being carnally minded is death, because it will eventually cause us to fall away if we are not careful. In addition, we won’t be able to please God when we walk in the flesh. “5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be [b]carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the [c]carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” Romans 8:5-8. On the contrary, when we are spiritual minded, it will bring us life and peace because this mindset will help us to continue to grow in the Lord (2 Pet 1:5-11) and to remain faithful until death to receive the crown of life (Rev 2:10).
PROBLEM #2: DIFFERENT RULE
Even though, we say we follow the bible and use it as our moral guide but there are times when our personal feelings will overtake our decision-making. Feelings must be addressed because they get in the way without us realizing it. A classic case of how one makes irrational decisions because of emotions is clearly shown in the story of Samson (Judges 13-16). Samson was a strong man, so strong that he could kill a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey!
One day, he fell in love with a woman from the valley of Sorek named Delilah. When the lords of the Philistines found out, they offered Delilah 11,000 pieces of silver if she can find out where his great strength lies. Then Delilah begins her mission to discover where his strength lies. “So, Delilah said to Samson, ‘Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you’” Judges 16:6.
She made her intentions crystal clear, but Samson was blinded by emotions. He lied to her three times regarding where his strength lay, and in all three cases, she would immediately try to use his facts against him, having the Philistines on standby, as she tried it. Delilah continued in her pursuit. And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart (Judges 16:16-17a). Sometimes, when we think we are being rational, we are still exposed to the danger of being overtaken by emotions. That’s why we are instructed to be sober and vigilant because the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour and if we let our emotions get the best of us, then we are in a very dangerous position. “8 Be [c]sober, be [d]vigilant; [e]because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Peter 5:8.
PROBLEM #3: PRIDE
While the bible promotes a lot on humility, there is still the problem of pride in the church. Humans are delicate creatures, the reason why we are offended at times are mostly because of pride. Pride is very dangerous because by it comes nothing but strife. “10 By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom” Proverbs 13:10. And where there is envy, strife and division, are we not being carnal-minded? Pride will also lead one to harden his heart, and it’s very clear what the bible says about the hardened heart. “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgement” Proverbs 18:1.
When one rages against all wise judgement, they won’t be able to come into realization on what they are doing is wrong because they may think they are right and they won’t even allow someone to come and give additional insights. “17 The first one to please his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” Proverbs 18:17. This is the reason why an offended brother is hard to win back. “19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle” Proverbs 18:19. When a problem like this occurs, won’t it jeopardize all the work that we should all be doing for God? We will be so occupied with this matter, that we will be leaving so much work undone in the Lord’s vineyard. Our time here on earth is short and life is unexpected, let us not waste time on petty matters and focus on the harvest and edifying one another! (Ecclesiastes 9:12; James 4:14).
Bottomline is we are part of the problem if we cause disunity among the church or hinder one another from doing the Lord’s work. We are also part of the problem if become the source of discouragement which can be done if the three main problems continue to occur. This Christian race itself is tiring and challenging and encouragements are much needed. Discouragements just helps to loosen our grip or weaken our will power to carry on in this race while encouragements will help us persevere till the end.
THE SOLUTION: BE PROACTIVE!
The solution to the problems mentioned earlier is simple, be proactive. Being proactive is defined as creating or controlling a situation rather than just responding to it after it has happened. We should take the initiative to grow spiritually so we are able to discern between good and evil (Heb 5:14) which will also allow us to defend our faith when we are tried by others (1 Peter 3:15). Instead of waiting for the weekly bible classes, we should study the bible on a daily basis and find other tools to strengthen our understanding of the scriptures. As we grow spiritually, we will be of the same mind and speak the same things, walking by the same rule. Then, we can finally work together on our goals here on earth and not waste time on conflicts and unnecessary issues. Even when there’s a problem, it will be resolved very quickly because of the proper mindset we have.
As we grow spiritually, it is also important to be humble lest we be puffed up and not edify those around us. Only when we practice humility, we can avoid having a hardened heart which leads to a series of unwanted consequences. Only when we are humble, we can learn more and to grow significantly as we are open for additional insights on how we can improve. When we are humble in our attitude and conduct, we are also able to be more tactful and to avoid hurting others with our words and be more focused on edifying one another with our words.
We also need to be proactive in utilizing our talents. Everyone in the church has a role to play and every single one has their respective unique talents that are essential for growth of the church (Romans 12:4-8). Therefore, it is necessary to put it all to good use for the furtherance of the kingdom of God. Instead of having the wrong mindset of “there’s too many members so there’s nothing to do,” we should look for something we can help with. There is much to do, we need to be proactive in finding out what we can help with instead of being idle and complaining. For example, there is much help needed in terms of supporting all church activities whether being part of the organizing committee or in terms of participating in the event, both are extremely important.
When we attend these church events, it will be an encouragement to our fellow brethren and portray a better image to the visitors who are visiting for the first time. Let us not occupy ourselves with worldly activities when there is a possibility of it clashing with a church event. “25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” Hebrews 10:25. We need to have the “Here am I, Lord. Send me!” attitude!
In conclusion, I beseech you brethren therefore, to examine yourself to see if you are the source of encouragement or the source of discouragement. In other words ask yourself, “Am I part of the problem or part of the solution?”