When there is distrust among people in the church, especially among leaders, division is certain.
On one hand, leaders have the God-ordained responsibility to be trustworthy and above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2,10; Titus 1:6). On the other hand, church members have a God-ordained duty to honor and submit to their leaders, which requires a level of trust (1 Thess. 5:12-13; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:7,17).
Leaders and members must work to ensure that they are relating with each other in a trustworthy manner. The worst thing that can happen is that you distrust leaders in the church and don’t pursue resolution, but, instead, go behind their backs and gossip about them. This creates greater distrust and division.
Tradition in and of itself is not a bad thing (1 Cor. 11:2; 2 Thess. 2:15, 3:6), but when a method is elevated above its intended function and is basically worshiped, it becomes an idol that can divide churches.
If you oppose change to non-biblical tradition for no good or godly reason, then your adherence to tradition will cause division.
Pursue the Unity of the Church.
As Christians, we are to pursue the unity of the church, but in our pursuit, we don’t create unity. God does. There is “one body and one Spirit … one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:4-6). In Christ, we are created as a unified people.
To pursue unity, we must continually pursue change. We are part of a living church made up of living people. We must change in the same way that a living person grows and changes, hopefully toward maturity.
To pursue unity, we must listen carefully to the words of the Apostle Paul, who said we must walk together “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:2-3). The key word in this passage is “humility.”
A humble person is not concerned with seeking his or her own welfare, personal gain or opinion. A humble person’s concern is with loving God and others.
These are the two greatest commandments that you can pursue (Matt. 22:37-40). And pursuing them will keep you from being divisive, and able to be used by God to bring unity to his church.
This article originally appeared on Mark Driscoll’s blog here.