by John Coppola
It is time we overcome this brother verses brother plight we face in the “Church”. To get the most out of this article, I would ask that you would take the position that there is valuable information contained herein. I hope to use very basic principles, even elementary principles, to outline a way to overcome the brother verses brother giant that halts the spreading of the Kingdom.
One basic principle is that we are not building our kingdoms or the church’s kingdoms. We are structuring THE Kingdom – HIS Kingdom. If it is not our kIngdom, but instead His Kingdom, then we do not have to be in control. We merely surrender control to The King of Kings.
Another basic principles is that we need to repent from dead works, and have faith in God (see Hebrews 6:1-2.) Dead works require us to earn our salvation and please God through our actions. Dead works in church are vain labors that are more like building our own kingdom than His Kingdom. If one sets it in his heart that it is God’s Kingdom to begin with, then it is easier.
Those of us who have been at this awhile know that we change over the years. God does not change, yet we do. Our understanding of Him changes. On our journey with God our perspective changes, our beliefs change, and our understanding changes. If these things are not changing, then perhaps we are not growing. As we behold Him Corinthians states, we are changed to be like Him. Our journey is just that – our journey. One thing that halts growth or the Kingdom being built is to assume we understand or have it figured out. I am bringing this up in the context of relating to other believers.
I have had the privilege of walking with some folks in life who have great understanding – some real fathers and mothers of the faith. The issue I am thinking of is like the one that Paul addresses when he said, “Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas, …” We all treasure our revelation. We treasure the revelations we receive from others.
Sometimes that makes it difficult to interact with folks from different streams of revelation. I cannot tell you how many discussions I have set through where people want to push what they know and refuse to listen to anything other than what they have decided to be “THE WAY IT IS”. Pat Holloran has a book on the subject of Orphans (“I Will Not Leave You As Orphans“). There is a need to be heard that supersedes the love motivation to advance the Kingdom of Heaven. I say with certainty, that works done through this veil will result in, “Lord, Lord, did I not do this in your name?” We absolutely need to repent from dead works.
Pray with me, “Father, let my eyes behold You; let me be gripped by your compassion. Every place where my works lack the life of your love, I surrender them to you. I ask that you cause my vision to expand to see beyond my importance and to see and fall in love with all that you are doing. Father, I want to partner with you in any manner that you would have me to. Father, give me the skills to work with people who cannot see past their agendas to further your kingdom. Lord, let your Kingdom come and Your will be done.
Luke chapter 9 has a few incidents that are strung together. We see where Jesus sends the twelve out; later, we see them debating which one of “us” is the greatest. I am sure they could have come to a consensus eventually, concerning which one of “us” is the best. Perhaps they would all vote “yours truly” as the best!
The next thought mentioned is by John who talks about coming across an outsider who was casting out devils in Jesus’ name. Jesus responds by saying, “If they are not against us, they are for us.”
The following incident is the Samaritans rejecting Jesus. John and James immediately want to “call down fire.” The apostles were sent out with power and authority. They became invested in the spreading of the gospel of the Kingdom and they wanted to call down fire on those that did not receive the preparations made for Jesus to come. It is worth noting that the Samaritans did not want him because it looked like he would just continue on past them to Jerusalem. The three things that stand out are:
- Arguing over which one of them is the greatest
- Not wanting to accept others outside of their group
- Not wanting to receive someone who wouldn’t stay
I would like to compare this to some other situations. Let’s say you have a group of believers that you are leading. Let’s call it a small group. In your town there are two or three other very similar groups being led by other believers. You all believe the Gospel of Jesus. You all want to see God have His way in your city. In your own meetings, you all glorify God; you all see the works of God being accomplished. One of you suggests that we could accomplish more for the Kingdom if we work together. They may even quote, “One can put a thousand to flight and two can put ten thousand.” Right away the question will arise, “Who is in charge?”
As a young pastor, I can remember being asked to have my church join other churches a number of times. My thought was they just want to lead my group. The issue of who is in charge can be a move stopper. What if I do not agree with the way the other leader chooses to lead? Any time we feel like someone is trying to take over, we tend to resist. I suggest that there is a better way. Let the greatest among you serve. Why do we need to completely abandon our separate works to join? We do not have to. I suggest we can be separate and together. Also, I suggest that there is a better way to work with the other ministries in your area. You be the servant. Find ways to serve the vision that the other group has. Any area of success that they have is building His Kingdom. Do not measure success by the size of your group. Rather measure success by the Kingdom of God advancing. Also, be prepared to help those outside of your circle. If they are not against Jesus, they are for Him.
In football the goal is to win. It doesn’t matter which position you play; at the end of the game the whole team enjoys the victory or endures the loss. There is a satisfaction to seeing the city you live in reveling in the King. There has to be a desire to see that sort of Kingdom advancement rather than seeing your own ministry grow.
If someone has just unselfishly served you, it is very difficult to be upset with them, though trust still could be an issue. Serving with humility disarms jealousy. Perfect love casts out fear. Love beats fear of motive; however, there is almost no substitute for time. That is important because trust doesn’t come easy these days. Love allows others to be honored above or more than you. When you prefer others above yourself it is easier for them to embrace working with you and to consider you part of the team.
Do we need to be in charge? Or do we want to see the Gospel advance with multiplication? If we set the standard of serving it is contagious and affects a larger region. Heart motives are the issue here.
If in serving we are trying to lead, then we missed the love part. The currency of this Kingdom is Love. That love has to love others more than ourselves. If that is a problem, then we need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His love to us more. When people are around you long enough, your motives are no longer questioned if you function in unselfish love.
There is a great video called EE Taow (The Mouk Story). One thing that stood out to me in this video was the patience that the missionaries approached the village with. If we would approach our own people groups with the same patience, it would be amazing what we could accomplish. We can accomplish a lot on our own or with the circles we run in. I think we could accomplish a whole lot more by increasing what some would call our “emotional intelligence” to the point where we could work with others even in tough situations.
Interwoven in our marriage vows was this statement: “I will do what it takes to keep love alive.” It is a choice. It is a commitment. It is an intrinsic value that we want or even need to make important. It is a value that we need to ask the Father to magnify in our hearts. I think that we need to take the same approach in our journey with the fellow believers we walk with. Let it be the anthem that we sound as a drum beat that finds its way into the hearts of all around us. I choose to function in a love that stirs others to love. When my eyes only see me, Lord, I know I need more of your Holy Spirit so I can see with love again.
We are in control of what we do. We can let the Lord work on our hearts. We can pray that other people encounter the Lord, but we cannot expect them to function as we would. Also, another tidbit that I picked up from one of those spiritual fathers is that if we are going to work with someone, we need to have a common purpose or goal. That is what keeps us together. In marriage, the goal has to be more than just raising good kids because eventually the kids all grow up and move away. If our purpose is Kingdom related then there can be longer term relationships. This does not mean that there would not be good reasons for short term partnering. There are plenty of reasons for working together.
You do not have to give up who you are to work with another group either. In the example of a few small groups working together and who would lead, there is nothing saying they could not do joint ventures for the sake of the Kingdom and do individual things as well. Let’s not let greed or fear dictate who we can and cannot work with.
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Very Insightful John. Thankful for the gift that you are !