Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of
the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said. “Lest perhaps the people change
their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”
The pastor of a small southern church was on his way home when he met an acquaintance from
town who was not a member of his church. After chatting for a while the man asked the pastor
how many members he had. The pastor responded, “I have fifty active members.”
His friend replied, “My, that certainly speaks well for you.” But the preacher responded, “Well, I
wouldn’t say that. All fifty are active—but twenty five are actively working for me and the other
twenty-five are actively working against me!” Too frequently that’s an accurate description of the
When God brought His people out of Egypt, He made a special effort to avoid places where
strife would likely occur. He knew such belligerent encounters would discourage His people and
perhaps even cause them to return to their bondage in Egypt. God was willing to go the long way
around rather than risk a hurtful battle, even though He could have won.
Strife within the church never accomplishes anything positive. Invariably, innocent people get
hurt. It is absolutely necessary that we never compromise the basic truths of the faith, but issues
such as choir robes versus casual dress, hymnals versus an overhead projector, or a later service
versus an earlier service ought never cause resentment among believers.
Are you “at war” with anyone in the church? Are you allowing minor issues or personality
conflicts to undermine the unity of the faith? Jesus Christ died to bring unity. Make sure you’re
not the cause of disunity. God’s Word says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live
peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18). It’s much more possible than most of us want to admit.
UNTIL WE RECOGNIZE WHO THE REAL ENEMY IS, WE WON’T KNOW WHO
OUR FRIENDS ARE.