|Vol. 1, No. 12||Page 10||December 1999|
Brother Against Brother
By Paul Hoover
Suddenly, on the surrounding hills, horsemen were silhouetted against the morning sky. It was Attila and one thousand of his Hun horsemen. At the sounding of a horn death descended the hills. The Huns spurred their horses to a full gallop. With a war cry on their lips and fury in their hearts the Huns hit that small city with the force of utter destruction. When the chaos was over two thousand human beings were dead. Attila simply moved on ever toward the conquest of Italy, killing all who stood against him.
On February 9, 1950, in the early morning hours, well before light, the third division of the North Korean Army moved across the Naktong River. Men from the U.S. 7th Calvary spotted their movement and alerted the American lines. Star shells and flares illuminated the Koreans at mid-stream. U.S. artillery and automatic weapons were directed at the Koreans. The Koreans, however, successfully crossed the Naktong River. They took a defensive position on hill 268. A two-day battle raged. At the end of that battle one thousand human beings were dead.
In May of 1962, a young man graduated from high school. Ignited by the passion of youth and with patriotism burning in his heart he enlisted in the United States Army. After basic training he soon found himself standing on the tarmac in South East Asia. The young man boarded the helicopter which would take him to his unit in the field. When that helicopter landed at its destination the young man stepped forth only to meet immediate death as a sniper’s bullet penetrated his heart. One more human being was dead.
This year, in congregations throughout this great nation, the same scenario will be played out. Two men will sit starring angrily at one another across the table of a men’s business meeting. It is a meeting that has gone terribly wrong. These two men have disagreed over a matter of opinion. It may be something as petty as the choice of color for the new carpet. Pride and personality cause these two men to leave this meeting with anger written on their faces. War has been declared, brother will face brother and the casualties will be high. Good brethren will align themselves on each side of this war. Some brethren will be so distraught over this battle that they will fall away from the Lord’s church, never to return. People in the community who would have been reached by the Gospel of Christ will observe this battle and be lost to the world forever.
Brethren, out of all of the things that we have discussed so far, which is worse? Do we assume that Attila the King of the Huns is worse because he took so many lives? Do we look at the isolated battle in the Korean War and declare it to be the worst? Or what about the tragic untimely death of the young soldier? Is it the worst? Obviously none of these things are good, but they took place in the world. The world does not have the knowledge to deal with conflict correctly. God’s people stand without excuse.
Certainly it is the case that error must be confronted and dealt with in an appropriate fashion. We, however, are not dealing with the subject of error in this article. We are dealing with “personality conflicts,” “arrogant pride” and other such things that cause divisions in the body of Christ. Until members of the Lord’s church learn to listen and to emulate the Master these divisions will continue. We will look at one section of Scripture which clearly teaches a principle which would eliminate these types of problems if Christians would only apply it.
“Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). Jesus knew that he had precious little time left (bodily) in this world. It is certain that he would have used this priceless time by teaching what he considered to be an invaluable lesson. Jesus in his final hours taught the disciples the importance of serving one another. The Lord prepared himself to render this service. “He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself” (John 13:4). Jesus prepared himself to serve. He was mentally and physically prepared to serve the disciples. “After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded” (John 13:5). In order to teach this lesson Jesus could have chosen any service to perform. He chose to wash the feet of the disciples because it was one of the most humble services one could render. The Son of God held the feet of men in hands which would soon be nailed to a cross. He humbly and tenderly wiped the dust from their feet.
When the Lord finished washing the disciples’ feet he made sure that they understood the lesson that he taught. “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?” (John 13:12). They knew that the Lord had done the unexpected. The master had served the servant. The impact of this event on the disciples was great. Jesus then made the application to this great lesson. “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15). Jesus had demonstrated humble servitude; therefore, the disciples had an example set before them by the master. Jesus then drew a powerful conclusion. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him” (John 13:16). If a follower of Christ does not humble himself in service to others he exalts himself above the master that he claims to serve.
After looking at this great lesson taught by Jesus just
prior to the crucifixion, how can a Christian declare war on a brother
over petty differences of opinion? The child of God who does this
stands without excuse. We must take this lesson into our homes, the
worship service and yes, into our business meetings. If we approach
one another in humble servitude, war in our congregations will end and
we will be Sons of God.