Enjoying the Journey
One of the great stumbling blocks to the gospel and road blocks to revival is the party spirit that exists among many of God’s people. This is more than human nature. This is the devil’s nature – always to divide, to splinter, and to break up.
This week I was preaching through the works of the flesh in Galatians 5 and the Holy Spirit dealt with me about this truth. How easy it is to identify another man’s flesh and how difficult it is to see mine! The most deceptive flesh is always my own. It hides. It excuses. It justifies. It parades in religious terms. But it is still flesh.
We love to preach against “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance…” Wait!…Variance? What is that?
Variance is that which divides unnecessarily. It is the Bible word for cliques. One of Satan’s strategies is to get people to divide up into little groups and miss the big picture. Soon those little groups are shooting at each other and trying to distinguish themselves as better than the other little groups. All the while the true battle is being lost.
Variance is flesh and variance is the way to defeat and not victory.
Harry Ironside called variance “quarrelsomeness,” and wrote, “There are many of us who would shrink from those first sins, but we are not very easy to get along with, we are dreadfully touchy, and this is as truly evidence of the old nature, as those other ‘works of the flesh’.” Later in the same list the Apostle Paul mentions “strife” and “seditions.” When flesh starts to fight there is no end to it…unless it dies.
We tell young people to beware of becoming part of a “clique.” But it is not just teenagers who are in such danger. We all tend to find those we are comfortable with and separate from all others. In happens throughout life. Everyone wants to belong!
On university campuses this is seen in the existence of fraternities. By its definition the word fraternity means “a group of people sharing a common profession or interest; the state or feeling of friendship or mutual support within a group.” It certainly sounds like something we all would enjoy! And yet, the very nature of a fraternity implies that only a few may participate. Others are excluded.
A fraternity spirit is a hindrance to the gospel. It serves as a roadblock instead of a bridge. The goal of a fraternity is belonging. The goal of a fellowship of believers is reaching. The first turns everything in while the second turns everything out.
Christ doesn’t put us into a fraternity – He puts us into a family. Fraternities come and go, but family is for life. Believers are more than friends…we are family members.
To be sure there are things that we should belong to, like a local church. And there are equally things we must divide from, like sin and false doctrine. But unnecessary divisions should be avoided and God’s people should work together for the advancement of the gospel.
Variance. Fraternity. Cliques. Flesh. None of these will change the world. But Spirit-filled believers in one mind for the cause of Christ can turn the world upside down.
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Ephesians 4:2-6).