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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Strong in the Lord: Strength in Numbers

by Marilynn Chadwick

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one (John 17:22 NIV). 

If we want to grow strong, we need to stick together. We are better and stronger when we’re part of a team—a body of believers. Who would dream of fighting a war alone, or playing against an entire basketball team by ourselves? 

I heard a statistic recently that made me pause. Guess why most missionaries leave the field? Not poor living conditions, lack of creature comforts, fear of threats like Ebola or ISIS, or attacks from the locals; not even family issues. The reason most missionaries leave their assignment is because of conflict with other missionaries. Perhaps this is true for local church pastors leaving the ministry, too.

Internal conflicts, like family squabbles, are the most destructive and painful of all. Maybe you’ve trusted someone close, only to be deceived. Deception is as old as time itself. The deceiver works his or her magic by flashing one set of motives, while armed with another. We’d agree that those who know us best can wound us the most deeply.

Why does this stealth attack among Christians happen so often? Most likely because it works. We’re unaware and therefore don’t properly guard against the threat. The evil one is very good at what he does. After all, the word translated “devil” is diabalos, which means “divider.” Division is his name—and his job description. It’s how he incited the angels to cause a rebellion against Almighty God.

I imagine most divisions are secretly animated by the devil and his minions. The “divider” is also called the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10 KJV). Division is the sordid work demons know and love most. Like any opponent, the enemy plays to our weakness—our natural pride and selfish ambition, envy and competitiveness (James 3:14-16). He also exploits our sense of self-righteousness. Our awareness of being “wronged.” He strategically stirs up wounds from our family dysfunctions. Moreover, he usually does this dirty work in secret, so we don’t see it until it’s too late. 

Jesus knows the importance of unity in the body—it’s the kind of love reflected in the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One of Jesus’s most powerful prayers for the church reflects this divine call to unity. “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:22, 23 NIV). 

We must resist strife like the plague it is. The battle begins in our mind. The stakes are eternal, for our success or failure in this conflict is lived out before a watching world desperate for the Good News of the Gospel.

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