Disunity in the Christian Community

One of the greatest weapons in the devil's arsenal is disunity. Satan has learned well from Jesus, who taught that “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will Jail against house.” (Luke 11:17). Does that conjure the picture of a house of cards tumbling down, or dominoes toppling one after the other?

God's work versus the enemy's work

God fosters unity and unity is a manifestation of His kingdom. Thus the triune God is one. Jesus' final prayer before his passion was for unity (John 17:21). The Pentecost community was of one heart and mind (Acts 4:32). Husband and wife join together in Christian marriage and become one flesh, the mystery of a new unity (Ephesians 5:31-32). Paul urged the Christian community to be united, “striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:3-6). Paul says also that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28). This is unity among God's people transcending ethnic, social and sexual distinctions.

In turn, Satan works at disunity. He knows disunity will greatly affect the witness of Christians and will weaken or even destroy its mission. Unfortunately for us he has been successful in many ways.

  • Christendom itself is split. The Eastern Orthodox Churches broke away in 1054, the Protestants broke away in 1517 with the Reformation of Martin Luther, the Anglicans in 1535. Pentecostalism came in 1901. Today there are thousands of independent evangelical and born-again churches.
  • Christian marriages have been ravaged by divorce and separation. In some countries the divorce rate reaches 60%. This does not include the many couples who simply live in and no longer bother to get married in church. For them the rate of separation is surely much higher.
  • Families are breaking up at an alarming rate.
  • Christians within countries fight and kill each other, such as in Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Burundi.
  • Many parish groups, ecclesial movements and covenant communities have broken up, splitting its ranks.

Satan targets specially those in leadership or authority, in order to affect a greater number of people. When a marriage breaks up, the children too are affected. When two Christian leaders in the same group fight, their respective followers or loyalists break ranks and form factions under them.


Christian ministries has often been a target for disunity and break-up by Satan.

  • There have been members who disagreed with the direction for mission, such as rapid and massive evangelization or work with the poor.
  • There have been leaders who broke away due to conflicts with other leaders and who tried to bring their subordinates with them.
  • There have been deep conflicts between top leaders that have resulted in misunderstanding, hurts and estrangement.
  • There have been loose talk by and rifts among those serving in the various Christian ministries.

But by God's grace, Christians ministries has been protected and has not experienced any actual break-up or split in its membership. In fact, oftentimes the departure of some leaders and members has paved the way to a smoother and stronger forward momentum.

The ministry of unity

One essence of a Christian ministry is that of unity.

Versus divorce and separation that are rampant in today's world, even among Catholics, Christian ministries work for the protection and strengthening of marriage.

Versus family break-ups, Christian ministries through its Family programs is strengthening the bonds between parents and children, and uniting them in the one life and mission of the community.

Versus the growing gap between the rich and the poor, which seek to bring rich and poor together in solidarity and sharing.

Versus the various sectors of society pursuing their own ends and often ending up in conflict with other sectors, Christian ministries are bringing all sectors of society to participate actively and leading the way to true nation building and national unity.

Versus the rift in Christendom, Christian ministries welcomes all Christians to its renewal ministries, brings blessings to mixed marriages, and has brought its family renewal program to the other Christian Churches such as the Lutherans. We aim to work at Christian unity from the bottom up, as the lay people of different Christian confessions worship, undergo formation, have fellowship, and serve together.

Versus inter-religious conflict, which at times result in violence, Christian ministries are reaching out to members of other religions, such as Buddhists in Indochina and Muslims in southern Philippines and in Indonesia.

Versus inter-racial conflict, Christian ministries are bringing together the various races and cultures within particular localities or countries, such as the Christians-Muslims or the whites-blacks-coloreds-Indians in South Africa.

The Spirit and the flesh

Paul knew that the devil would attack the Christian community's unity. And so he warned them, “But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:15).

And it is very interesting to see what he says about the opposition between the flesh and the Spirit.

I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:16-17,19-21)

Paul says that the Spirit and the flesh are opposed. Then he enumerates 15 obvious works of the flesh. The first five - immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry and sorcery - certainly are clearly evil. These are what right-thinking Christians would seek to avoid. The last two-drinking bouts and orgies - are also clearly very wrong and very much of the flesh. But how about the eight works of the flesh in between? In all honesty now, how many times have we fallen into these, and still fall?

  • Hatred. Consider the person who did you grievous wrong and whom you have not forgiven.
  • Rivalry. Consider your competitive desire to be a better leader and have a bigger and more “successful” Christian group than your contemporaries.
  • Jealousy. Consider how you are jealous of the success of others beyond your own.
  • Outbursts of fury. Consider the last time you had a really big fight with your spouse.
  • Acts of selfishness. Consider how you spend your money on yourself and your family, and fail to give your tithe to the Lord.
  • Dissensions. Consider how you actively and adamantly and loudly opposed the decision of your elders in community.
  • Factions. Consider how you gathered your subordinates to side with you against another leader.
  • Occasions of envy. Consider how you look with envy at your neighbor's goods, which you would also like to have but don't.

Now in all honesty again, how many of us do not really consider these as such terrible sins? We might think to ourselves, yes they are sins, but they are not as bad as the first five and last two enumerated works of the flesh. And while we would never think of committing the other seven, we might even be comfortable in living these eight.

But Paul says they are all works of the flesh. And he warns the Galatians that doing such things will cause them to lose the kingdom! Notice that Paul says he has warned them before. This is not the first and certainly will not be the last time. Such acts of the flesh seem to have been constant occasions for wrongdoing.

Further, Paul securely wedges the eight between the first five and the last two. He has designed his list such that we will not miss these eight works of the flesh. Why? Because they are the works that cause disunity.

And with disunity there can be no real community. With disunity comes weakness and at times even disintegration. And weakness is followed by failure in mission.

Do not forget: Satan has made disunity among Christians one of his foremost goals.

Maintaining unity

How do we remain united amidst Satan's onslaughts?

First we must be united by the common vision and mission God gives His people. This means we need to know why God has called us and raised up our group. Without vision a people perish. Without vision and knowing where to go, we obviously are not going to get where we are supposed to. Without a common vision, elders of community will constantly be bickering about what God wants.

Second, we must remain loyal to one another. We are all children of God, we are all servants of Christ, we are all comrades in the one army of the Spirit. Our strength is in our unity. We are called to live our lives as community and to care for each other. We are to “do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith” (Galatians 6:10). We are to love one another as God has loved us. We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We are of the same family, and we are on the same side. We must fiercely protect our relationship by being extremely loyal to one another.

Third, we must always be mindful of Satan and his wiles, and of his use of disunity as one major weapon. And so when we are in a heated argument, whether between spouses or between community leaders, and we notice things are making a turn for the worse, we must step back from the brink by recognizing Satan right there with us, grinning from ear to ear, savoring his impending victory prodding both parties to keep the heat on. And we must make the move, whether reciprocated by the other party or not, to stop what we are doing. We pray, we repent, we become more tolerant, we humble ourselves, we forbear, we do whatever is needed at the time. But we consciously deprive Satan of his victory.

For us Christians, we also can remain united by living out our culture of resolving conflicts in the Lord, and by respecting our pastoral structure of leadership and authority.

We must be mindful that in arguments or differences of opinion, there are always three sides or ways - my way, your way, and the Lord's way. We must not insist on our own desires or opinions, but be willing to dialogue and listen to others. We must be mindful that there is no perfect discernment, and that even though we firmly believe in our position, we still can be wrong, or rather, another way might be better.

If we are unable to resolve differences with others, we can turn to our pastoral structure for guidance and resolution. We can refer the matter to those over us. In dealing with elders over us, we must be respectful and exercise active submission. This does not mean blind obedience.

But if in the Lord we still feel differently, we can elevate the matter further. But we need to guard against stubbornness, and really humble ourselves before the Lord prior to every move. We must always examine ourselves and be able to say that it is not us but the Lord that keeps us going.

Our unity is especially crucial during these times, when God has already revealed the fullness of our mission in this third millennium. And our mission is the very mission of Jesus himself. Many amazing things have been accomplished, but in a certain sense we are just beginning. What has happened in 23 years has been a preparation for what is still to happen. The Lord has simply been laying a strong foundation on which He intends to build even more.

The future for us will be intense work to protect and strengthen the family, the basic unit of society. Our work will be to bring good news to the poor. Our work is a work of nation building. All these God intends to accomplish through a willing and obedient people.

But we need to be united - to God, to one another, and to the one vision and mission of our community.

I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but everyone for those of others. (Philippians 2:1-4)

If we do the above, then we will indeed have a blessed community. Then we can proclaim with great joy, “How good it is, how pleasant, when the people dwell as one!” (Psalms 133:1).


It is crucial in this third millennium to rediscover the method by which God intends to bring the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ to the world. God's methodology is clear, precise and effective. The first Christian community after Pentecost followed Jesus' instructions and evangelized the world within a few centuries. Unfortunately, today we have a world that is in darkness and beset by evil that is becoming more and more entrenched. What happened? Somewhere along the way, perhaps as the Church became more institutionalized, we veered away from the prescriptions of Jesus with which to establish his kingdom on earth. We lost the meaning of authentic evangelization.

But we have not lost the guidebook. This is the Bible. It is the living word of God. In and through the Bible we continue to hear God speak to and instruct us. It contains the Great Commission, the final marching orders given by Jesus to his disciples. It chronicles the exciting growth of the early Church as it carried out the Great Commission. It contains the teachings of Jesus and his disciples, giving much needed wisdom with which to flesh out his barebones final instructions.

And of course we have the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us understand Jesus' words and ways. About the Holy Spirit Jesus says: “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-15). The Holy Spirit will tell us of God's plan, of Jesus' mission, of what is to come, and will guide us in the way we are to go.

Authentic evangelization

Analyzing and synthesizing what we are being taught, we learn about the seven aspects of authentic evangelization.

1. We must carry out the mission of Jesus himself.

2. That mission is to bring glad tidings to the poor.

3. To reach the poor who are the majority of the people of the world, and to overcome and overtake the likewise aggressive and massive work of the enemy, evangelization must be rapid, massive and global.

4. To do such challenging evangelization and effectively bring in the harvest, there must be witnesses conformed to the mind and heart of God and who are growing in holiness.

5. Such witnesses - facing a hostile world, undermined by the enemy within which is the flesh, continually lashed by onslaughts of the evil one - need a strong environment of support, the Christian community, in order to survive and thrive.

6. It is not only the Christian community that is discipled but whole nations as well.

7. For such humanly impossible tasks, the special anointing of and empowerment by the Spirit is crucial.

An abundant harvest

If we do our work of evangelization according to God's intent, we are going to reap a mighty harvest. Why can we confidently say that?

We have such confidence because of the compassion of Jesus. Let us look at one instructive incident in the ministry of Jesus.


At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.’ (Matthew 9:36-38)

We learn quite a few things from this passage.

First, the crowds were troubled and abandoned like sheep without a shepherd. This is a good description of people in the world today. They are deeply troubled by all the wrong things going on in and around them. They are listless and directionless. They are helpless and hopeless, not knowing the way out of the misery of life in the world.

Second, Jesus pitied them. They who were God's children, who were to inherit the kingdom, who were to live eternally with God, are lost. And they are finding it difficult to make their way to heaven. They are to be pitied indeed. But much more, it is God himself whose heart is moved with pity. God created humankind out of love. Jesus would die on the cross for humankind out of love. But here they were, lost and seemingly abandoned.

Third Jesus does not stop at just pitying them, but he does something about it. He summons his disciples. Today he is summoning us as well. And we in turn are the ones expected by God to do something about it.

Fourth, Jesus says that the harvest is abundant. God knows something that we do not. When we have a hard time evangelizing others, we know we are looking at hard soil. When we assess the life of the world, we may feel like giving up. But God knows that the potential abundant harvest is there. Why? Simply because that is in accordance with God's plan, which is to bring everything in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ's headship, “a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). And God is able to accomplish His will.

Fifth, Jesus says that what is lacking are the laborers. How can the abundant harvest be brought in if there is a lack of workers? Aha. Now we see more clearly. God has already done 'his part. Jesus has already won the victory on the cross. The Holy Spirit has already been poured out upon humankind. Now it is our turn. And in the mystery of Gods workings in the world, He is depending on his disciples to finish His work and bring in the harvest. If we do not respond adequately, then the harvest is small or may even be lost. But if we do respond, the harvest will be abundant!

Sixth, in addressing the lack of workers, Jesus points us to the master of the harvest. We are reminded that the harvest is God's work and intent. It is His harvest and it is He who sends out the laborers. Also, as those who will approach the Master to ask for laborers, we need to be worthy to come into His presence. For us this is a call to holiness, nurtured by prayer and a life of righteousness.

Seventh, since the laborers are sent by God Himself, they must not be just ordinary workers, not just workers in the kingdom doing this or that good work. But the laborers, for a mighty and abundant harvest, must be those formed by the Lord who will proceed according to the way He has manifested. That is the way of authentic evangelization.

The right laborers

So Christians have to be people whom the Lord can indeed use to bring in the harvest.

This means that we have to watch out for the pitfalls, so that we can overcome the obstacles that stand in the way. We need to have certain mindsets and attitudes that will allow us to flow with the Spirit.

1. We must have faith - in God, in His work, and in the power of His Spirit to accomplish that work. This is mountain-moving faith.

2. We must not have a complaining heart, but rather, we must rejoice at the privilege of being called to participate in the harvest, even given all the difficulties and hardships that entails.

3. We must have the right priorities, that is, God first and foremost, in everything. And given now the right priorities, we must be willing to pour all that we are and have into the work.

4. We must continue to take on the mind of Christ, letting go of our human ways formed by the world and dictated to by the flesh. We must not put the Spirit in a box, but flow with the creativity that is the hallmark of God's Spirit.

5. We must not be afraid - of the enemy who has already been defeated; of the demands of the work because God will provide; of the sacrifices and the cross, for this is our privilege In following in the very footsteps of Jesus.

6. We must guard against sinful pride, and remain humble amidst the many signs and wonders.

7. We must remain united - as the one family of God, as brothers and sisters in our community, and as comrades-in-arms in the army tasked to take territory for the Lord.

For the Lord to use us in bringing in the harvest, we need to be growing in holiness. We need to become true witnesses. We must be willing to give our all for the mission. Even unto death.

Called to change the world

The work of authentic evangelization, done by holy witnesses and empowered disciples, will result in massive revival. The whole world, now “under the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19b), will be restored to the rule of its rightful king, the Lord Jesus.

So we are called to change the world. We have been shown the way of authentic evangelization; we have our assurance of God's compassion and desire to win souls; and we are alerted to obstacles that stand in the way.

Now we must move forward with great conviction.

We must believe that God is very much at work in the world today, and that God does want to renew the face of the earth. We must believe that indeed the harvest is ready, because the grace, mercy and love of God are at work, but more workers are needed. We must know how to become those workers. We must know how to proceed, how to respond to God's call, how God wants it done. We must understand the very mission of Jesus, and how he has instructed us to carry on with that mission.

Then we must simply get going. We must continue to be transformed in Christ and renewed in his Spirit. We must continue to be supported in Christian community, and make our community life our collective witness to the world. With community as our base, we must move into the world and bring the good news of Jesus to all. This must be with a great sense of urgency, and thus should be rapid, massive and global. We must look to both the spiritual and social dimension of the gospel, with particular emphasis on bringing good news to the poor. And we must build our nations for God.

A spirit of wisdom and revelation

Paul prayed “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him.” (Ephesians 1:17). In order that God's will for the world may be accomplished, we need to see and understand His plan and His way of accomplishing that plan. We need to know Him and His heart. I pray the same for you.

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might (Ephesians 1:18-19)

We need to see things not just with our eyes but more importantly with our hearts. With the love of God being “poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5), we will be enlightened.

And we will know “the hope that belongs to his call.” As we have been called, so can we hope. If God calls, God provides. We can become instruments to renew the very face of the earth. We face a future full of hope!

And we will know “the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones.” As God has called us to be holy as He is holy, we are called to enter into life in Him as His beloved children, heirs to the abundance of His love and His kingdom. The riches of our inheritance will be glorious!

And we will know “the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might.” As God has called us to serve Him, we do so in His name and therefore with His authority and the power of His Spirit. And His power is awesome. Believe it, and have faith!

With these, what else could we possibly need?

God has made clear the mission of His people in the world. Christians have been called to change the world. Christians are to be instruments of the Spirit for renewing the face of the earth. God has provided the greatest power available in the world to accomplish our task. God has poured out His Spirit upon us.

So the work is clear. The blueprint has been provided. The empowerment is assured.

What else then is there?

Let us go forth and fulfill our mandate.

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