“Trust your Bible. If you don’t know the answer to your problem, keep reading. God will guide in His time.” —Charles R. Swindoll
Just as a family works best when there is harmony and co-operation, so does a congregation. No parent enjoys dealing with children who misbehave, but ignoring them or giving in to them are not good options. The same is true in the family of God. Throughout the history of the church, there have been those who stirred up trouble and caused dissension. Such troublemakers will always exist. To keep the unity that is so vital in a healthy church, those who habitually and persistently sow discord must be confronted, dealt with, and encouraged to repent. Unfortunately, there are always a few who refuse to repent even when confronted; these call for stronger measures. Admittedly, these situations represent one of the more difficult and unpleasant aspects of ministry and the Christian life.
While we understand that the church is always going to have people in it who frustrate us and try our patience, clarifying how things really are in the church can be helpful. Two facts are undeniable.
First, those who lead are very big targets
Second, those who follow are sometimes very stubborn
As long as there has been sin, there have been rebels. As long as there has been leadership, there have been those who fought against it. Achan disobeyed God and refused to follow the Lord’s appointed leader, Joshua. David had numerous troubles with his sons Absalom and Amnon. Jesus dealt with frustrating Pharisees and smug Sadducees, while Paul and other apostles constantly had to warn churches against false teachers. Troublemakers are everywhere.
As Paul concluded his letter to the Roman church in Romans 16:17-18, he wanted to make sure the people would remain on stable ground as a community. This meant watching out for those who would seek to create fissures in their church community by teaching something contrary to the apostles’ doctrine. We have to observe the divisive behaviour before we can do anything about it. What did Paul suggest we do? “Stay away from them,” (Romans 16:17). In other words, when people begin to influence our churches and teach in ways that are contrary to the good news about Jesus and the teaching we have received from the apostles, we need to protect our communities from those false teachers by keeping our distance.
When it comes to dealing with troublemakers in the church and remaining unified, we need to remember one thing only: we are each the secret to having a healthy, wholesome, and happy church.
“What If a Person Is an Unrepentant Troublemaker?” is from Chuck Swindoll’s series What If...? You can stream this message online anytime at insightforliving.ca/audiolibrary.