Have you ever had a passionate disagreement with a fellow believer? Did you want to fight back? Disagreements are inevitable, but there’s a way to disagree without creating division and discord. Discover how to maintain Christian unity even when we disagree with our Christian brothers and sisters.
Like you, I’ve had disagreements with other believers. I have felt the sting of hurt and rejection, and I have felt the desire to lash out with my words and actions. There have been times that I did respond, and I had to repent and apologize. In those instances, I could’ve avoided further discord if I would’ve chosen to pursue unity instead of responding emotionally; if I would’ve chosen God’s way rather than my own.
I’ve created this blog post for anyone that has experienced the pain of being hurt by a fellow Christian. Together, we’ll learn practical steps to offer hope and healing for our hearts and strength to lay down our weapons against our Christian brothers and sisters.
Defining Christian Warfare.
According to Merriam-Webster, war is defined as “a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations.” As Christians, and as part of the kingdom of God, we are engaged in open conflict against the devil and the kingdom of darkness. Paul states this very clearly in Ephesians 6:12 (ESV): “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Our battle isn’t with our brothers and sisters. It’s against darkness, wickedness, and anything that aligns itself with Satan. In order to win this battle, we must fight effectively. This means we must know what our weapons are, and we must know how to use them.
Generally speaking, weapons are used to inflict hurt or harm on an enemy. In war as we know it, opposing armies use swords, spears, guns, bombs, and missiles to attack their enemy. In spiritual war, however, we must use different weapons. According to 2 Corinthians 10:4–5 (ESV): “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Our weapons aren’t physical weapons; they are spiritual weapons that are used to attack mindsets, doctrines, and ideologies.
Division Within the Body
Wielded accurately, we can use these weapons to strike damaging blows to the kingdom of darkness, diminish Satan’s influence, and advance the kingdom of God. There are times, however, that we exchange our spiritual weapons for carnal ones, and we use them against our Christian family.
Harsh words, gossip, insults, and negative conversations can become weapons that we use to inflict harm on our brothers and sisters. When we’re hurt or offended, we can easily overlook God’s admonishment to be compassionate and kind, not repaying “evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9 ESV).
When we attack our brothers and sisters, we’re turning our swords on our own army. These attacks can cause great division among believers and lead to their downfall and ours. Jesus warned of this in Luke 11:17 (NKJV) when He said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.”
It’s important to note that having a disagreement isn’t sin, and it isn’t a foreign concept. There are several instances in the Bible in which Christians weren’t on the same page: Paul and Barnabas disagreed over whether John Mark could travel with them on their second missionary journey (Acts 15:36–41), Paul confronted Peter because Peter stopped eating with Gentiles when his friends came to town (Galatians 2:11–13), and even the disciples had a dispute among themselves regarding which of them was the greatest (Luke 22: 24–30).
The issue isn’t that we disagree, it’s how we disagree. When we allow our disagreements to result in verbal attacks, division, and behaviors that lead away from Christ rather than towards Him, we’ve entered into dangerous territory. As we take up arms against other Christians, we’re aligning ourselves with our enemy (the devil) by creating division and subverting God’s plan.
God’s Plan for Biblical Unity
God has called us to live in biblical unity. Before Jesus was betrayed and crucified, He prayed for all believers to be unified. In John 17:21 Jesus prays, “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” The key here is that our unity is in Christ.
We’re often distracted because we don’t agree with each other, but the more important thing is that we agree with Christ: His ways, His views, His purpose, and His plan. As Paul admonished the church at Philippi in Philippians 2:5, “let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus.” As we agree with Him, we will focus on the things that matter and agree more with each other. This is how the Kingdom of God advances.
How to lay down your weapons
So, it’s time for us to lay down our weapons when it comes to fellow believers. We must live in peace as Paul urged us in Romans 12:18 — “if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Try as we might, there will be times when peace is threatened between us, when we disagree. Here are some practical steps to foster unity in the midst heated and controversial discussions.
REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE
You, dear friend, are an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). This means that you’re representing Him and heaven, your true homeland, right here on earth. Wherever you go, the kingdom goes with you. As an ambassador, you mustn’t engage in disputes of no consequence or arguments that have no point. You must focus on advancing the agenda of God.
More importantly, you have been given the power of the Holy Spirit! According to Galatians 5:22, you’ve been given love, joy, peace, and self-control, which is more than enough to represent Christ well.
When we forget this and we engage in assassinating the character of other saints or using our words to hurt instead of heal, we’re no longer aligned with the kingdom we were sent to represent. Instead of representing Christ, it looks to others that we’re representing Satan. When we render evil for evil, we’re no longer pursuing what’s good or beneficial for ourselves or those who witness our actions.
RECOGNIZE THE REAL ENEMY
As hard as it is to believe, the person who hurt or offended you isn’t your enemy. It may look like it and feel like it, but they typically are responding from a place of hurt themselves. You must muster the strength to see beyond their actions and words to recognize that Satan is clearly at work.
Satan jumps at every opportunity to use miscommunications and misconceptions to divide believers. We’re cautioned in 1 Peter 5:8 to “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” He’s waiting for a chance to strike.
Our unity is a threat to him, and he knows it. So, he baits us to turn on each other, and many times we fall for it. We must recognize that he’s at work and use the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17), to cause his plan to fail.
Here are a few scriptural prayers as a starting point, but I encourage you to find more that specifically apply to your situation:
- Pray that you will not be easily angered or offended (1 Corinthians 13:5)
- Pray that bitterness will not take root in your heart (Hebrews 12:15)
- Pray that all parties will recognize the tactics of the enemy (2 Corinthians 2:11)
- Pray that all parties will be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32)
BE RECONCILED TO ONE ANOTHER
Remember, Paul urged us to live in peace with one another as much as it depended on us. That means that we have a role to play. We must humble ourselves, realizing that we all make mistakes. We’ve been on the giving end of offense before, and God forgave us. God expects us to follow his example and forgive others. So, along with our weapons, we must lay down our pride — our desire to be right and prove it, our need for an apology, and our need for vindication.
Jesus lays out an amazing plan of restoration in (Matthew 18:15–20). First, we must be willing to go to our fellow Christian in love and truth and with purity of heart. He doesn’t instruct us to go to our friends and lay out how we were wronged. He says go directly to your brother and explain the issue. If things go well, that’s the end of it. You and your brother or sister are now back in fellowship, and you can continue fighting the enemy as soldiers in arms.
If you aren’t received, you are to go back to them with one or two others. If that doesn’t work, then you’re to go to your Christian leaders (Matthew 18:16–17). Through all of these steps, the hope is for restoration and reconciliation. There’s no space in any of these steps for maligning, disparaging, or attacking the offender. We’re to do all in our power to restore Christian unity.
It’s time to lay down your weapons against other believers. The casualties are unnecessary, and the cost is too high. Fight the real enemy, and even then, remember that we don’t use the weapons of the world (2 Corinthians 10:4). Our weapons are spiritual and, wielded with precision, can destroy every subtle plan and strategy of the enemy.
LEAVE A COMMENT
Have you been hurt by a fellow Christian? Have you caused casualties with fellow believers? Leave a comment below to discuss how this article helped you or provide advice you would give to other believers.