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Now that I have your attention let me immediately admit that the title is click bait. While we can certainly have a conversation regarding the church’s stance on pronouns we will not be having that discussion today. However, I’d like to talk about another way that I see pronouns as having potential to divide the church. I’d like to discuss the “us/they/them” divide.  

A good friend of mine shared a story with me a number of years ago that continues to have an impact on me. When he started serving in his first church he made it a point to regularly meet with the Pastors from both the Christian church and the Baptist church in the same town to pray for revival. After some time of persistent prayer, God answered! They started to see radical conversion to Christ in their small town of Northwest Arkansas… and all of it came through the Baptist church. My friend, a Methodist, and the Christian church Pastor were left with two options; rejoice at what God was doing or resent that it didn’t happen in their churches. The potential for the “us/they/them” divide was very real. I can imagine a scenario where they discuss among themselves, ‘Well they don’t do it like us so they shouldn’t go to church with them.’ Thankfully, they chose the latter. Keep in mind that this was a time when denominational differences were predominantly matters of ecclesiology.  

While it doesn’t fully parallel we see something similar happening in Acts 10 & 11. Acts 10 tells us the story of the Gospel reaching the Gentiles and Acts 11 tells the story of the leaders in the church approaching Peter with indignation because of it. The “us/they/them” divide was real. However, as Peter explained what was happening, we see a shift in their demeanor. Peter shares the amazing work God had done among the Gentiles and they respond with humility saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:18 ESV) 

They chose to rejoice!  

If we are called to rejoice at the great work that God is doing across the street we can certainly rejoice at what God is doing across the seat. Yet, how often are we inclined to look at new ministry endeavor as division in the body, not multiplication. Personalities, traditions, gifting, experiences, preferences, etc. all have the potential to create the “us/they/them” divide in the local church but that’s exactly what the enemy wants! What if, instead of seeing these differences as cause for contention, we saw them as cause for celebration? What if we saw them as creating opportunity for cooperation, not competition? Paul writes to the Corinthians, ”Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord… All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-5, 11-14 ESV) It is crazy to think that this discussion began all the way back in chapter 3 when discussing the divide over whether one should follow him or Apollos. Of course, Paul says, “Neither! Follow Christ!”  

God gifts each of us uniquely for His purposes of reaching and investing into those He has called to Himself. Anywhere that is happening is cause for rejoicing! There is no “they/them” in the body of Christ, only us. We are one body with one message! If we’re not careful the Church has potential of allowing pronouns to divide the church in its own way. 

May it not be so!