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A Winnable War We Must Not Ignore.

by Larry Cory


(How will victory in the Silent War revive the Church?)

Is the Status Quo God's Best for the Church?

     One way of responding to all that has been written in the previous chapters can be expressed in the following words: "There will always be selfishness in the church.  The silent war always has been present in the church and it always will be present in the church.  Nothing is going to change."  Is this glum resignation to the status quo in our churches the only possible outcome we can hope for and aspire to in the churches where we are members?  Let us look together at what the status quo is in too many churches.  Then, let us ask this question: is this status quo the very best that we can ever hope for in Jesus Christ's Spirit-empowered church?  Also, what if the status quo is little different that what is occurring outside of the church?  And, what if it is even worse, at times, than what is occurring outside of the church?
     What I am going to share is not something that is talked about very much, but it is, nevertheless, a sad reality in way too many churches.  A very real part of the status quo in our Christian community is that there are Christians who do leave their home churches as a result of power struggles. (Sometimes groups of Christians leave.)  So, sitting in too many churches are people who once attended another church but left due to some type of conflict in their previous church.  They often sit in the back rows.  Still others have become so disillusioned with their painful church experience that they ceased to attend a church altogether.  Is this an okay status quo?  Do we just move on when Christians are completely divided from each other and stay completely divided from each other after being involved in a church fight?  Is this type of division in our churches the best we can hope for?  Is there any type of attitude change that God can enable us to have so that we can change this unhappy reality?
     Still others who were not involved in the conflict can stop attending any church after they observe church members in a church fight treating each other in a very un-Christian and unloving way.  The church, to them, seems to be one of the most unloving groups of people they have ever experienced.  Many of these are fairly young Christians.  They are shocked by what they see and completely lose interest in attending a church.  Is this an okay status quo?  Do we move on when many who once attended the church where we are members no longer are interested in attending any church?  We try to mask our church conflicts so that they are seen by as few as possible.  But church members are still aware when a church is having some type of people trouble.  Mainly, they notice that those who used to be regulars on Sunday mornings no longer attend there anymore.
     Many of those who have been involved in church political struggles realize that becoming bitter and unforgiving is not a Christian alternative, so they genuinely seek to forgive their fellow Christians who put winning a political struggle over loving and caring for them.  They go on and seek to minister in another church with humility, love, and joy.  Is this an okay status quo?  Do we just move on when Christians are no longer in Christian fellowship with other Christians because there has been no genuinely humble, mutual, and loving attempt at reconciliation?
     Still other Christians who have lost a significant power struggle in a church remain in that church.  Sadly, some can start seeking to find others who agree with them.  They lost the power struggle the last time, but they will not lose it the next time!  Is this an okay status quo?  Do we just move on when a future power struggle is boiling under the surface, waiting for a significant issue or situation to cause it to boil to the surface once again?  This is like a marriage where significant issues have not been resolved, but they stay married; underneath the surface, though, boil the unresolved issues.  Churches where there are unresolved issues can be just like these types of marriages.
     And still other Christians who have been successfully defeated in a church fight, still stay on in the same church.  They struggle to respond to it all with love, humility, and forgiveness.  They move on in the same church with a diminished leadership role, due to the fact that the winning faction has gained control of the church and now sees them as the opposition.  Is this an okay status quo?  Do we move on when there are these types of divisions in local churches?
     Then, there are those who won the battle for supremacy in a church.  The winners are now able to get their way and are fully pursuing their utopian plan for the church.  Is this an okay status quo?  Can we move on when the result of a faction in the church winning a power struggle means that a significant number of people have left the church or still attend the same church but are no longer enthusiastic about those who are now running the church?  They won the battle, but they also divided the church and diminished the enthusiasm within that church over the church's goals.
     Also, is this winning group conscience-free about the damage they have caused?  Do they wonder at all about how Jesus, who prayed that His church will be one, thinks about how they won their victory?
     This is the status quo in too many churches.  There are people in churches who have left other churches due to ugly political struggles in their past churches.  Some are bitter and others are seeking to forgive.  There are factions now present among the people who have stayed in their original church as a result of past political struggles.  Some are bitter and some are seeking to forgive.  There are also the winners who are enjoying their victories.  Some feel no guilt over how they won the battle, while others have twinges of guilt over the effect of their victories on fellow Christians.  Those who are guilt-free can feel that the collateral damage done to those who were once fellow church members was necessary so that their higher goals might be accomplished.  Is this status quo acceptable or unacceptable?  Should we or should we not move on from this very tragic state of affairs in too many churches?  If you would like to see our churches change for the better, read on.

A New Beginning

     It appears to me to be very obvious: the status quo is unacceptable.  We should not move on as if everything is going well, when so many are being harmed by the status quo.  Our greatest concern should be for those who no longer attend any church.  They most certainly fit into the category of the lost sheep that Jesus described in Luke 15.  What should we do to reach out to those who no longer attend any church due to an ugly and unloving church fight that they have witnessed or have experienced?  Should we not reach out to them and pray for them?  Should we not confess as wrong any selfishness and unloving acts that we have done that led them to leave our church fellowship?  Or, do we just move on and let them languish on the outside of any church fellowship?
     What about those inside the church or in another church who have become embittered as a result of the church fight?  Here is what Paul had to say about what we should do with any bitterness in us.  "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:30-32)  We in the church have God's Spirit within us.  We grieve His Spirit when we are bitter toward anyone.  Bitterness and an unforgiving spirit are always inappropriate for God's forgiven children.  There can be bitterness and an unforgiving spirit in both those who lose and those who win a church war.
     Also, leaving the fellowship of God's church is never the appropriate response.  "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24-25)  We can always come up with good reasons to stop attending church, but they are never good reasons.  Instead of giving up, we should continue getting up on Sunday mornings and at other times.  And we should also keep seeking to be active encouragers of our fellow Christians.
     Listen to what Paul went through.  "Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." (II Corinthians 6:4-10)  If he could endure what he went through, so can we continue on faithfully attending church gatherings, even though it is not always easy to do.  Whatever we endure, it is not nearly as difficult to do as what Paul endured.
     What about those who have won in a church war, but won by using some type of force?  Examples of force are anger, intimidation, slander, lies, half-truths, bullying, ganging up on the opposition, unfair characterizations, and some type of punishment.  None of these tactics are appropriate for Christians.  Church discipline is appropriate when it is done to correct someone who has chosen sin over obedience to God, but church discipline is not an appropriate way to win a church power struggle.  If we have used some type of fleshly and worldly force to win a church power struggle, we can be sure that it is sinful and wrong.  We had to harden our hearts and sear our consciences to do it.
     Those who have used force and any type of unloving tactic to win a church battle need to humble themselves and approach those who were affected by their bullying tactics and apologize.  I have had three persons who have apologized to me for the way I was treated in church power struggles.  One person put it this way: "Please forgive me for any way I did not treat you with compassion."  I cannot put into words how much these words were of help to me and were healing to me.

The Path to Revival

     What would happen if we did not accept the status quo?  What would happen if we did not just move on after church fights and power struggles?  What if we forgave, began to reach out in love to those that were deeply wounded by our fleshly battles, and what if we asked to be forgiven wherever we were unloving and used force of some type to get our way?  Certainly, this would lead to a wonderful revival in our churches.
     I became a Christian at San Jose State College in the late 1960s.  I was a part of what has come to be called "the Jesus Movement."  At our campus, collegiate Christians united in prayer daily in apartments across the campus and we united in a large rally called "Project 7."  Seventh Street divided the campus into two halves.  The rally took place on that street in the middle of the campus.  J. Edwin Orr, an expert on revivals, spoke on revivals on our campus at a college Christian center.  He spoke to us on revivals because we were experiencing a revival.  I also was one of those who attended Expo 72 in Dallas, Texas, a wonderful gathering of Christians from all over the United States to celebrate our mutual faith in Jesus and to evangelize the city of Dallas.  In short, it was an exciting time to be a Christian.
     Wouldn't it be great if we experienced another revival in America?  This time, not just among college-aged people, but in our churches—a revival coming as a result of the love, forgiveness, and compassion coming from the very core of our churches!  Movies and television shows often have happy endings; and they do it all in one or two hours.  Churches too often do not have happy endings.  The status quo is that church wars leave little more than destroyed relationships and painful memories.  Rarely are there happy endings.  Neither those who win nor those who lose church battles win.  If we truly love each other; when anyone loses, we all lose.
     Christianity is all about grace, humility, and love.  All that is needed for revival to break out in our churches is grace, humility, and love.  Why are we who have humbled ourselves to become Christians so reluctant to humble ourselves before each other, to admit our sins, to be merciful and gracious to each other, and to choose to have Christian love toward each other?  Nobody is faultless.  If those on either side of a church fight believe they are faultless and believe that only the other side is full of faults, they cannot be looking at themselves correctly.  The truth is that both sides in a church fight are full of faults and in need of grace from God and from each other—just like both sides of a marriage that is struggling are at fault.  If we humble ourselves before God and each other and ask for forgiveness from each other, revival will break out in our churches.  But, even if revival breaks out between two people, it will be wonderful.
     Yes, there is a silent war in our churches.  We win the war by humbling ourselves before God and each other, and by loving and forgiving each other.  Is that too great a price to pay in order for God's Spirit to fill our churches with a fresh spirit of revival?

The Silent War In The Church

Table of Contents and Brief Intro Table of Contents
Introduction Introduction
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 1 Part 1a
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 2 Part 1b
The Silent War between Churches Part 2
The Silent War with Satan and his Demons Part 3
The Silent War can be Won by God's Love in us Part 4
The Silent War can be like the Wars in the World Part 5
The Silent War between a False and Coerced Unity and a True Unity Part 6
An Essential Requirement Needed for Ending the Silent War Between Christians Part 7
The Silent War Caused by Turning the Church into the Kingdom of Man and not the Kingdom of God Part 8
The Silent War inside of Each Christian Part 9
The Silent War in the Church with the World Part 10
The Silent War Over Divisive Issues Part 11
The Silent War caused by a Mysterious Invading Army Part 12
The Silent War Caused by Seeking Worldly Success Part 13
The Silent War Always Results in Persecution Part 14
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Divide Part 15
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Cause Divisions Part 16
The Silent War Caused by the Church or a Church Dividing over an Important Issue Part 17
When the Church is Winning - Part 1 Part 18a
When the Church is Winning - Part 2 Part 18a
The Bible's Description of Victorious Soldiers in the Silent War Part 19
How Victory in the Silent War can Lead to Revival in the Church Part 20
Conclusion Conclusion
Addendum: The Silent War caused by "the onlys" "The Onlys"
Addendum: A Pastor's Authority by Ray Stedman A Pastor's Authority
Addendum: Galatians 6:1-3 (my commentary on these verses) Galatians 6:1-3
Addendum: John Wesley's sermon at George Whitefield's funeral George Whitefield