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What causes divisions between people?

1. Divisions often arise from jealousy.

Genesis 26:12-22
12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him.
13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy.
14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.
15 So all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.
16 Then Abimelech said to Isaac, "Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us."
17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there.
18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.
19 Isaac's servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there.
20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen and said, "The water is ours!" So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him.
21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.
22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, "Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land."

KEY BIBLE VERSE: He acquired large flocks of sheep and goats, great herds of cattle, and many servants. Soon the Philistines became jealous of him. (Genesis 26:14)

God kept his promise to bless Isaac.

The neighboring Philistines grew jealous because everything Isaac did seemed to go right.

So they plugged his wells and tried to get rid of him.

Jealousy is a dividing force strong enough to tear apart the mightiest of nations or the closest of friends.

It forces you to separate yourself from what you were longing for in the first place.

When you find yourself becoming jealous of others, try thanking God for their good fortune.

Before striking out in anger, consider what you could lose (a friend? a job? a spouse?).

John 6:60-71
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you?
62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!
63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.
65 He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67 "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
70 Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!"
71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

KEY BIBLE VERSE: At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, "Are you going to leave, too?"

Division can arise when we take a stand for truth.

There is no middle ground with Jesus.

When he asked the disciples if they would also leave, he was showing that they could either accept or reject him.

Jesus was not trying to repel people with his teachings. He was simply telling the truth.

The more the people heard Jesus' real message, the more they divided into two camps-the honest seekers who wanted to understand more, and those who rejected Jesus because they didn't like what they had heard.

After many of Jesus' followers had deserted him, he asked the twelve disciples if they were also going to leave.

Peter replied, "To whom would we go?"

In his straightforward way, Peter answered for all of us-there is no other way.

Though there are many philosophies and self-styled authorities, Jesus alone has the words of eternal life.

People look everywhere for eternal life and miss Christ, the only source.

Stay with him, especially when you are confused or feel alone.

2. Divisions can arise from misplaced loyalty.

1 Corinthians 4:6-13
6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.
7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings--and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!
9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.
10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!
11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.
12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;
13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

KEY BIBLE VERSE: Dear brothers and sisters, I have used Apollos and myself to illustrate what I've been saying. If you pay attention to the Scriptures, you won't brag about one of your leaders at the expense of another. (1 Cor. 4:6)

The Corinthians had split into various cliques, each following its favorite preacher (Paul, Apollos, Peter, etc.).

Each clique really believed it was the only one to have the whole truth and thus felt spiritually proud. But Paul told the groups not to boast about being tied to a particular preacher because each preacher was simply a humble servant who had suffered for the same message of salvation in Jesus Christ.

No preacher of God has more status than another.

How easy it is for us to become attached to a spiritual leader.

When someone has helped us, it's natural to feel loyalty.

But Paul warns against having such pride in our favorite leaders that we cause divisions in the church. Any true spiritual leader is a representative of Christ and has nothing to offer that God hasn't given him or her.

Don't let your loyalty cause fighting, slander, or broken relationships.

Make sure that your deepest loyalties are to Christ and not to his human agents.

Those who spend more time debating church leadership than declaring Christ's message don't have Christ as their top priority.