How Satan Plots Against Church Oneness
The apostle Paul advises donning the full armor of God as the only adequate defense against the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:10-12).
Satan hates unity in Christ’s church. We must not be ignorant of this scheme (2 Cor. 2:5-11)!
C. S. Lewis focused on this plot in one of his masterfully imagined correspondences between Uncle Screwtape and demon nephew Wormwood in The Screwtape Letters:
I think I warned you before that if your patient can’t be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it. I don’t mean on really doctrinal issues; about those, the more lukewarm he is the better. And it isn’t the doctrines on which we chiefly depend for producing malice. The real fun is working up hatred between those who say “mass” and those who say “holy communion”. . . . And all the purely indifferent things—candles and clothes and what not—are an admirable ground for our activities. We have quite removed from men’s minds what that pestilent fellow Paul used to teach about food and other unessentials— namely, that the human without scruples should always give in to the human with scruples. You would think they could not fail to see the application. You would expect to find the “low” churchman genuflecting and crossing himself lest the weak conscience of his “high” brother should be moved to irreverence, and the “high” one refraining from these exercises lest he should betray his “low” brother into idolatry. And so it would have been but for our ceaseless labour. Without that the variety of usage within the Christian Church might have become a positive hotbed of charity and humility.
The reference to Paul comes from Romans 14:1-15:7.
There the apostle prescribes welcoming–embracing, accepting, not judging one another–as the antidote for the kind of critical spirit which divides believers over matters of conscience.
How charitable are your judgments of others regarding nonessentials? Where do you see a temptation to prideful criticism which disrupts unity within a church?
Refusing judgment and deferring to others does make the church a positive hotbed of charity and humility.
Few things contribute more to preserving congregational unity.
Question: What helps make a church a positive hotbed of charity and humility?