By Chuck Swindoll
(A shortened version)
Before Andrew Jackson became the seventh president of the United
States, he served as a major general in the Tennessee militia. During
the War of 1812 his troops reached an all-time low in morale. As a
result they began arguing, bickering, and fighting among themselves.
It is reported that Old Hickory called them all together on one
occasion when tensions were at their worst and said, "Gentlemen!
Let's remember, the enemy is over there!"
His sobering reminder would be an appropriate word for the church
today. In fact, I wonder if Christ sometimes looks down at us and says
with a sigh, "Christians, your Enemy is over there! Stop your
infighting! Pull for one another. Support one another. Believe in one
another. Care for one another. Pray for one another. Love one
One of the most profound comments made regarding the early church
came from the lips of a man named Aristides, sent by the Emperor
Hadrian to spy out those strange creatures known as "Christians."
Having seen them in action, Aristides returned with a mixed report.
But his immortal words to the emperor have echoed down through
history: "Behold! How they love one another."
How often do we hear such words today from those who don't know
Christ but who have watched those of us who do? I'm inclined to think
that it's much more likely that they say, "Behold! How they hurt one
another!" Behold! How they judge one another!" ... "Behold! How they
criticize one another!" Behold! How they fight with one another!"
This is the generation that has given new meaning to the shameful
practice of brother-bashing and sister-smashing. You would think we
were enemies rather than members of the same family. Something is
wrong with this picture.
The mark of the Christian should be a spirit of unity and genuine
love for others, but the church today rarely demonstrates those
qualities. We are looked on by the world as self-seeking and factious
rather than loving and unified. You question that? Just step into a
Christian bookstore and scan the shelves. What impression do you get?
Do the books reflect love and unity within the body of Christ? Or do
they reflect polarization, criticism, and judgment of one another?
Better yet, sit back and observe what's going on in your own church.
Are you overwhelmed with the love and unity that exudes from your
local body of believers? Or are you saddened and disappointed by the
political power plays and petty disagreements that block our ability
to get along with one another?
Unity: An Almost Forgotten Virtue
"I do not ask in behalf of these alone [the disciples], but for
those also who believe in Me through their word [that's you and me];
that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in
You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You
did send Me. And the glory which You have given Me I have given to
them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and You in
Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may
know that You did send Me, and did love them, even as You did love Me.
(John 17:20—23, italics mine)
Look at that! Believe it or not, He was praying for us during those
final hours. He was praying that you and I might make an impact on the
world because of our unity with Him and with each other.
If there is anything that would keep me away from Christ these
days, if I were lost, it would be the attitude Christians have toward
one another. That would do it. While there is much wonderful
fellowship in the church where the fire of friendship warms and
affirms us, there are still too many places where for the life of me
I don't know how people stay in ministry. The conditions in
which some men and women labor are occasionally beyond belief.
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