Years ago, while attending a Full Gospel Business Men’s luncheon, I was asked about the church I pastored.
“I’m an Assemblies of God pastor”, I replied.
“We attend a WORD church”, they informed me.
That phrase has stuck with me for over twenty five years.
Back then, some sectors of the Body of Christ acted as though they owned the market’s share of God’s Word. Like, if you didn’t go to a WORD church, you just weren’t Christian. Well, you might be a Christian, but you weren’t one of God’s favored ones.
There are still some who act that way, but there’s a different emphasis now.
The word now is PROPHETIC (of course, I could be wrong; it may have changed again).
Are YOU prophetic? A guy said to me one time, not that long ago, “I didn’t know you were prophetic!” Wow!
I remember thinking at the time, “I didn’t know I wasn’t.”
Back in the WORD days, people listened a lot to Hagin, Copeland, Capps, Savelle, Hickey, and others. I did, too. They were known as WORD preachers. They had their own followers; groupies. Though I denied it, looking back, that’s exactly what I was. And proud of it.
“Brother Copeland said…”
“Brother Hagin said…”
“Sister Prophesies Longandloud said…”
And when I could quote them, man did I feel big and important.
I don’t believe it’s what the ministers wanted, but Christians can be really weird at times.
People, myself included, have a tendency to use their affiliation to make themselves look and feel more important than they really are.
Now days there is a different group of people to follow: Johnson, Vallatron, and anyone associated with Bethel Church in Redding, California.
Or, Bethel Music (which, by the way, I do enjoy).
Also, there’s IHOP, Hinn, and hundreds of prophetic ministries serving up a prophetic word to their subscribers.
For a while it was Brownsville and Toronto. Other times it’s been whatever church was promoted on TBN.
So what’s wrong with that?
Nothing. Well, yes, I think there is something wrong.
Not necessarily with the ministers, though.
I truly believe most ministers want only to glorify God and see people changed by His Spirit. And the ones that are in it for the wrong reasons, well God certainly knows how to clean up His own house.
No one gets away with anything!
But I am a bit concerned about a certain spirit running loose in the Body of Christ; a spirit that brings division, plus accentuates the spirit of pride.
It’s called Factionalism.
Factionalism is loose in the church.
It’s nothing new; in fact it’s been around for a long, long time.
There’s evidence of it in the Corinthian church back in Paul’s day.
“…for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?” (1 Corinthians 3:3-4 NLT)
There were folks back in Israel, when Saul was King, that began sidling up to David’s camp.
This was their song: “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!”
This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. (1 Samuel 18:7-9 NLT)
It’s not an issue of having favorite preachers or teachers. Everyone will have a preference.
But the smell of factionalism is loose in the church.
There’s a reason why God placed the five fold ministry into the church. Paul also wrote that God placed people into the Body as He saw fit.
Which means, to the chagrin of some, there just may be some preachers/teachers we’re supposed to listen to and learn from that we don’t care for, or, EVEN AGREE WITH!
How can you or I grow in Christ if we only follow people we agree with?
And to actually believe we always know exactly what we need to hear, or that we don’t need to hear anything because we have it all is pride and stupidity all wrapped up into one smelly package.
Factionalism loose in the church.
So what can we, should we, do about it?
Well, as much as I agree with my Assemblies of God friends, they aren’t going to be the only ones I fellowship with. For instance, I attend a weekly men’s group consisting of Christian men wearing different stripes of Christian expression. Different, yet there’s one common thread amongst them; they love Jesus.
And they love me.
And I love them and value their friendship and support.
You see, I don’t belong to my denomination or fellowship. I belong to something, AND Someone, Who is MUCH larger.
I belong to Jesus!
Fellow Christian, when’s the last time you checked up on your spiritual hygiene? If you’re not being washed in the water of the Word of God; if you are only listening to a certain emphasis in the Word, you just may have CBO (Christian Body Odor).
Go ahead, lift up your arm when no one’s around, and stick your spiritual nose into the pit and take a good whiff. Do you detect a bit of an odor? Could it be factional pride oozing out?
I’ve heard of entire congregations becoming affected. The church in Laodicea for one.
Not sure how bad they smelled, but I know Jesus couldn’t stand their taste!
It’s time for the Body of Christ to come together. It’s time to drive out the spirit of pride and factionalism from our midst. It’s time to allow God the freedom to speak into our lives through people who may not believe EXACTLY like us.
It’s time to turn the true Spirit of Jesus loose in the church.
“This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13 NLT)
And who knows. We just may thank God when it’s all said and done.