By PASTOR TOMMY POPHIN
Do you get the sense that Christians today face increasing opposition from our government concerning our faith and practice? Such issues include: 1) Prayer in school and at other public gatherings are being banned and looked down on; 2) the removal of the 10 Commandments from courthouses throughout our country; and 3) the challenges to the words “one nation under God” appearing in our Pledge of Allegiance. Therefore, we are seeing increased conflict between churches and our government.
Conflict is a part of life. Perhaps the biggest excuse that people give for not being part of a local church is that the church seems to be full of hypocrites. Conflict is the reason many claim that the church has so many hypocrites. Conflict in the church, many times, comes as a result of the struggle to know and do God’s will. Another reason for conflict within churches is those who chose their own agenda as opposed to God’s agenda.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” With this verse in mind, we learn that conflict has good purposes as well as all the negative connotations that we are able to recall so quickly.
Concerning the brothers and sisters who make up the church, there are two arenas of conflict that are faced on an ongoing basis: external and internal. In Philippians 1:27-30, Paul gives the church encouragement concerning how to have joy in the face of external conflict. Paul writes, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved — and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.”