“17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
Can’t we all just get along? That seems to be a common desire for people today. It is more comfortable if we’re getting along. We can avoid conflict and lead peaceful lives. This sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
In our text for today we hear Paul saying something that sounds pretty similar to this idea of just getting along. In a way, that is what we have, but Paul adds a little twist. Paul warns that those who are reading his letter should avoid people who cause divisions in the Church. If you’ve spent any time in the church you know that there are times when people cause divisions and conflict. We can look at the number of denominations in the world as a visible sign of this division that has taken place.
It is sad that the church has become as divided as it is. When we look at these divisions it can be easy to ask the question, “Why can’t we just get along?” Isn’t it enough to simply say that we all are saved and been baptized? Some may say, “Let’s get rid of all this doctrine that divides us and focus more on the things that matter.”
But is that what Paul is saying? Does he think that we should just throw out all that divides us so that we can get along? No! If you notice, he continues by telling us that those who are causing the divisions do it by teaching contrary to what you have been taught and that it is driven by their own appetite and through smooth talk and flattery, they’re able to win other people over.
Paul says he wants his hearers to be wise to what is good and innocent to what is evil. Knowing the scripture and doctrine in its truth and purity helps us to know Jesus Christ and his work of salvation in the world through his perfect live, his death, and his resurrection. So we cling to this good news, we defend it, and we share it and we stay away from those to try to teach us something contrary so that we can live peaceful lives.
Let us pray:
Dear gracious heavenly Father, we give you thanks for your word and for the good news about Jesus our savior. Help us to live peaceful lives with everyone around us. Preserve your word and your teaching among us so that the good news about Jesus may be shared with all people. We ask all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.