When a church in Dallas decided to split, each side filed a lawsuit to claim the church property.
During the hearing, the courts discovered that the conflict had all begun at a church dinner when a certain elder received a smaller slice of ham than the child seated next to him.
Of course the trial was made public in the media.
And you can only imagine how hard everyone laughed when they heard about this huge fight among church people that began over the size of a slice of ham!
Incidents like this bring great shame not only to the church but to Jesus Christ. Satan wants nothing more than to divide a church from within.
In Acts 2 we see the first church in Jerusalem. And it has everything going for it.
- Christ pours out His Holy Spirit on it.
- The apostles are its pastors.
- Right out of the gates it grows by leaps and bounds.
- 3,000 receive Christ at Pentecost in Acts 2 (v. 41).
- 2,000 more are added by Acts 4 (v. 4).
- Acts 5 (v. 14) tells us multitudes more men and women are added to the church.
And so of course Satan isn't going to stand by. He immediately begins his assaults. Whenever God institutes something for our good, Satan tries to pervert it for our harm.
God institutes government to protect us. Satan uses human depravity to corrupt it.
God institutes marriage for our good.
- To give stability to society.
- To give the security of lifelong companionship.
- To give the gift of the marriage bed-the beauty of the sexual relationship.
- To give the gift of children.
Karie and the girls and I were at Culvers recently. Whenever we get a "buy one, get one free" coupon for ice cream, we feel it's our duty to use it.
And so we're enjoying two single scoop cones of the flavor of the day-Black Forest. It's amazing. Rich chocolate custard with chunks of brownies and cherries.
We decided this time to get an extra cup and put a few spoonfuls of ice cream in for Karis. And in 2 minutes, she is wearing it-all over her face, her clothes, her hair, her dad-my face, my clothes, my hair.
And she looks up at me through melted chocolate ice cream, points to my cup of ice water, and says "Daddy drink."
So I relent and let her put those chocolatey lips and that ice cream-filled mouth up to the rim of my cup. And every time I tilt the cup down, I can see all these brown streams and brownie floaters channeling down around my ice.
I told Karie "You might be a Dad if you can drink after 2 year old backwash."
But you know what? It was well worth it. As we drove home, looking like we'd been through a chocolate war, I told Karie, "One day we'll look back and think, 'I'd give anything for a Friday night eating ice cream with our little girls.'"
The gift of children is one of the many blessings God designed in marriage. But Satan takes those good gifts and he twists them. He perverts sexuality and gender roles. He destroys the sanctity of marriage and tries to re-define it. And just like every other institution that God creates for our good...within days Satan is attacking the church.
First he attacks with persecution. In Acts 4, the apostles are arrested and rearrested and threatened and beaten. But that just causes the church to grow. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.
And so Satan decides on another strategy. He begins to create problems in the church. In this passage we see the problems in the church (v. 1), the church leadership principles used to solve the problems (vv. 2-6) and the God-glorifying result (v. 7).