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June 12, 2007 / David Lindner

Selfishness – Destoyer of Unity

The German philosopher Schopenhauer compared the human race to a bunch of porcupines huddling together on a cold winter’s night. He said, “The colder it gets outside, the more we huddle together for warmth; but the closer we get to one another, the more we hurt one another with our sharp quills. And in the lonely night of earth’s winter eventually we begin to drift apart and wander out on our own and freeze to death in our loneliness.”

Christ has given us an alternative—to forgive each other for the pokes we receive. That allows us to stay together and stay warm. (Wayne Brouwer, Holland, Michigan, quoted in Leadership, p. 68)

When it comes to the church, unity is what it’s all about and selfishness is the quill that pricks others around us. We can’t come to church with bitterness towards others, especially when it comes to matters of preference about worship, and expect the unbelievers among us to desire anything related to Church. Many who have been turned off by church we turned off by the bitterness within that they were then exposed to. If we want non-Christians to feel welcome, we must lay aside the quill of bitterness and draw close together as we draw close to Christ.

I have brought this scripture to mind many times, but it is such a descriptive passage on how we ought to live that it bears repeating. Here are some selections from Philippians 2:1-11: Being united with Christ, be like minded, be one in spirit and in purpose, do nothing out of selfish ambition, consider others better than yourselves, don’t look to your own interests, look to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus, who made himself nothing, he humbled himself to the lowest state for God’s purposes.

If we as the Church of Jesus Christ can get our minds around this passage and really start living it out, we will see our hearts change, our priorities will change and other peoples’ hearts will change. Our hearts will change because we are no longer focusing on our selfish desires, but we are focusing on areas God wants to change in our lives. Our Priorities will change because we will be considering others better than ourselves. Other peoples’ hearts will change because they will no longer be feeling the prick of our quills.

Our livelihood as the Church of Jesus Christ depends on our ability to put the good of the church above our own preferences. If we are to reach all the people God wants us to reach, we will not be able to do so by claiming one style of worship is more spiritual than another. We will not be able to do so by refusing to participate in certain styles. If an unbelieving world comes into a believing church and sees it divided on the basis of preference, what hope is there for them, who have come from a conflicted world looking for peace. All of us have enough conflict in our lives throughout the week, we don’t need to bring that conflict in with us on Sunday mornings.

Instead let us lay aside our personal Agendas and pick up the Agenda of Christ, which is to go into all the world. How can we go into all the world and make disciples if we are not unified on the home front? How can we go into all the world if we aren’t even fit to worship together in our own church? The way we do this is to be focused on Christ and nothing else.

Let me leave you with a quote from Oswald Chambers: “If we build to please ourselves, we are building on the sand; but if we build for the love of God, we are building on the rock.” Let’s stop building to satisfy ourselves, and let’s build on the Rock of Jesus Christ a love that lays down its quill.

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One Comment

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  1. mlb / Jun 22 2007 6:22 pm

    I once went to a community worship service where the words were only displayed on SOME songs. When they weren’t displayed, the worship leader said, “well, you all know this one.” But I didn’t, despite the fact that I had attended church all my life, listened to Christian music on the radio and recordings, and led worship in a number of small groups.
    All of the people around me happened to belong to the same church as the worship leader, so they sang along as I stood silently, helpless to join in. These were not songs with repeating melodies or choruses; they were long, narrative, “Vineyard”-type songs. I knew then what it feels like to be an outsider, and I didn’t like it.
    I vowed to always do everything within my power to make sure that EVERYONE who wants to join in the singing is able to do so. That means providing accurate words, power point that keeps up with the song, keys that are not too high or low for the average voice to sing, and accompaniment that doesn’t overpower the vocals. It also sometimes means rejecting a pretty song that I myself like because it is not very singable for the average person. I think the attitude and commitment of the worship leaders to provide a “style” of worship in which most of the worshippers can participate is just as important as the attitude of the worshippers. What do you think? Can you relate?

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