Reconciliation & Division
Being perfect starts with greeting our enemies (Matthew 5:47-48) and reconciling with those who deeply hurt us (Matthew 5:23-25). Our goal should never be to ignore anyone (II Thessalonians 3:14-15; Romans 14:10) but to “aim for restoration,” back to a peaceful relationship (II Corinthians 13:9,11). Remember to never divide with anyone who calls himself a Christian (Romans 14:4) unless he changes the Gospel or divides over non-Gospel matters (Titus 3:10-11), commits any of these 6 sins on purpose (I Corinthians 5:11,12-13), is lazy (II Thessalonians 3:6-8), or refuses to be accused of sin (Matthew 18:15-17).
The majority of Christians believe in reconciliation and division, yet there is not much consensus on how to practically do this.
Reconciliation starts with God.
When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice and lordship, we become reconciled with God (Romans 5:10-11) and are given the ministry of reconciling others to God (II Corinthians 5:18-20). One day, everything will be reconciled to God (Colossians 1:20-22).
We must reconcile with all people.
We cannot think we are correctly serving God if there are individuals in our lives that we aren’t attempting to reconcile with (Matthew 5:23). Be careful to not let resentment or fear win because that person who you are ignoring will most likely send you to hell (Matthew 5:24-25).
Reconciling requires deep love.
Many of us create our own definition of reconciliation: that it’s “reconciling” to not fight with or hurt another but it’s ok to ignore their communication. God says reconciling is “killing the hostility” (Ephesians 2:16) and allowing them to talk about any fault about you they want (Matthew 18:15). God doesn’t want you to fake happiness or trust when you look at someone who hurt you, but He is commanding you to resolve the problem to the point where you can look them in the eye, hug them, and feel deep love like you would have for a friend or family member (I John 4:20).
The goal of reconciliation is restoration.
While reconciliation is merely “killing the hostility” (Ephesians 2:16), restoration is bringing things to a healthy state (I Peter 5:10). Oftentimes we feel like ignoring those who hurt us, but we are commanded to “aim for restoration” (II Corinthians 13:9,11), that is, aim to be extremely loving with those who may have ruined your life (Luke 6:27-28).
Division is avoidance, not ignoring.
Although we are to avoid spending time with specific groups of people (Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10-11), we must always go out of our way to greet (Matthew 5:47), help (Romans 12:20), and teach (I Timothy 1:3; II Timothy 4:2-3) our enemies, including those we divide with. It’s far too easy to let our ego cause us to hate those we avoid, but we must see them as a brother (II Thessalonians 3:14-15; Romans 14:10).
We are to divide with specific people.
Christians can’t allow anyone into their churches, for the Bible gives us specific people to divide with but still love (Luke 6:27). We are to divide with those who change the Gospel of Titus 3:3-8 (Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10-11), divide with those who commit these 6 sins on purpose (I Corinthians 5:11,12-13), divide with the lazy (II Thessalonians 3:6-8), and divide with those who refuse to be accused of sin (Matthew 18:15-17).
We cannot condemn unless proven with the Holy Spirit’s power.
“In passing judgment on another you condemn yourself” to hell (Romans 2:1,3; James 4:11; Luke 6:37), for “who are you to judge your neighbor” (James 4:12; Romans 14:4)? It is required to “judge the sin, not the sinner” (John 7:24), and this judgment extends to associating (I Corinthians 5:5,12; I Timothy 1:19-20). Anytime the “ministry of condemnation” (II Corinthians 3:9) happens in the New Covenant (Acts 13:6; Acts 5:4), their right to condemn is proved by enacting the Holy Spirit’s power (Acts 13:9,11; Acts 5:5).
How should we divide with false Jesuses, teachers, gospels, and unbiblical teachers?
Be sure to get the facts before dividing. The Bible says to unite with anyone who believes in the Gospel (Titus 3:3-8), and divide with those who try to divide over any other issues (Titus 3:9-10,11). We can’t divide with any preacher, including people like Joel Osteen, despite their lack of a biblical focus, if they hold to core doctrine (Titus 3:3-8; proof). Of utmost importance in Christian unity, anyone who believes that Christ our God has come in the flesh as Jesus is sent by God (I John 4:2-3). Any Christian who says someone or some group who believes Jesus is God is a false teacher, they must be avoided (Romans 16:17).
How should we divide with obvious liars?
Remember that only God is allowed to judge those called brothers in Christ (James 4:11-12; Romans 14:4). If you divide with a person who verbally claims “Jesus is God” (I John 4:2-3) and you spread rumors that he’s lying, you’re devoting yourself to “evil suspicions” (I Timothy 6:4) and are causing constant friction in the body (I Timothy 6:5). You are the person who should be avoided instead (Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10-11). Even if you obtain proof of the lies, we should welcome those who wrongfully think white lies are fine (Romans 14:4). Only when these lies turn into something that is biblically dividable, such as swindling, should we divide with them (I Corinthians 5:11).
How should we divide with Pharisees?
Jesus strongly disliked the Pharisees (Matthew 23:33) because of their hypocritical desire to preach but not do good works (Matthew 23:3). Although we shouldn’t be a part of their churches (Matthew 23:15) or follow them as spiritual guides (Matthew 23:16), we must listen to them because they too follow the Bible (Matthew 23:2-3). Note that not everyone who acts like a Pharisee is condemned (Matthew 23:15), for Jesus spoke positively with Nicodemus (John 3:1-15) and actually converted the worst of Pharisees to be the main writer of the Bible (Acts 23:6; I Timothy 1:15). Yet still, most Pharisees are too arrogant to accept correction, and these individuals should be avoided (Matthew 18:15-17).
How should we divide over interpretations of the Trinity?
Although we at Answering Problems believe in the co-eternal and co-equal nature of one God as 3 persons, we are not allowed to divide over the intricacies of this because the Bible never tells us to. It’s a very complex topic that no one should be claiming to fully understand. We do, however, divide over the divine nature of each person of the Trinity because the Bible mentions how each is God (Matthew 28:19): the Father (John 6:27), the Son (John 1:1,14,17), and the Holy Spirit (II Corinthians 3:17; Mark 12:29).
Shouldn’t we divide over the sufficiency of Scripture?
Although we at Answering Problems believe the Bible is the only authoritative, sufficient and infallible Scripture, dividing over the definition of Scripture is not allowed for in the Bible. Quite the opposite, Paul warns us to not “quarrel about the law” (Titus 3:9), and most Christians like the Catholics do share the exact same definition of the Gospel of salvation (Titus 3:3-8).
Who can we call out by name?
Many Christian leaders verbally slander the character of many politicians or pastors they disagree with, but we should never speak negatively about anyone (James 4:11). We should excommunicate individuals by name without defaming them only if they are in your church, as the purpose is to warn others (I Timothy 1:20). Not once in the Bible does someone call out an individual from another group. It is ok to call out other groups of people (Matthew 23:2-3; I Timothy 6:20) only if that group denies the core doctrine (Titus 3:3-8).
Can we vote for Christians who we would kick out of the church (I Corinthians 5:11)?
Yes, but the only reason you should vote for someone who has unrepentant sin is if the alternative is worse. Although association is about tying one’s name to another and voting does that in writing, ignoring voting ties your name equally to both evils. For example, Jesus didn’t “want” the Curse on Humanity, but He did “vote for” it because it was the lesser of 2 evils. We should judge which is “lesser” based on I Corinthians 5:11, not our personal opinions about which rights and values are more important. This is because certain sins are more infectious than others (I Corinthians 5:6-7).