The moment he said this, the council split right down the middle, Pharisees and Sadducees going at each other in heated argument. Acts 23:7 (TM)
As a member, board member, staff member, youth pastor and pastor, I have been involved in many different churches in several different denominations. In that time, I’ve witnessed many heated arguments within churches. Some arguments are theological, some arguments are political, some arguments are personal, some arguments are just plain silly. Looking back over all these conflicts, I can’t recall one heated argument over the color of carpet, the choice of hymnals, or predestination that I can say furthered the cause of Christ.
Reading Acts 23, I can’t help but see the contrast between Paul and his accusers. While Paul was passionately focused on revealing the truth about Jesus, the Jewish Council was focused on petty, long standing theological squabbles. Paul had spent years travelling the region, sharing the message of Jesus, and making a difference in people’s lives. His work and his writings would eventually change the world and the course of history. The Jewish leaders remained in Jerusalem screaming at each other over theological minutae. No one else cared. Within a few years, Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed. Any power or influence the Jewish leaders had would be wiped away with it.
There will always be differences in opinion when you mix a bunch of flawed human beings into any kind of organized group. There will always be conflict. That is a given. The larger question is how we manage the conflict. Am I focused on Jesus? Am I focused on my mission? Or, am I focused on petty conflicts and arguments that distract me from what I am called to do?