I always remember the phrase, fissiparist tendencies, from Andrew Goudie’s book “The Human Impact” from the days of my geography studies. In his introduction he spoke about how geography, as a discipline, had fissiparist tendencies inherent within. What did he mean? He meant that there was always this tendency to split apart. Geography is always in danger of becoming a dead discipline through all the constituent parts in it going off their own way and setting up on their own.
This reminds me of the church. Every church has fissiparist tendencies. It has within it the raw materials which could lead to it splitting. It has different people with different personalities and different ideas. Sometimes the people come together in cliques. Small groups form which do not have any connection to the rest of the group. And behind all this we have evil spiritual powers; Satan wants to split and divide God’s people.
But God does not want this. Psalm 133 beautifully reveals the mind of God on this issue.
A song of ascents. Of David.
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life for evermore.
As Christians we are not left on our own to strive for this. We are drawn together in Christ and we have the Spirit working to bring this about. When we are harmonized in Christ around the Word then there is unity. As Paul in Ephesians 4:3-6 reminds us Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
There are two big enemies here:
- Ourselves. We are prone to be selfish, sinful and divisive. So the forgoing verses, in particular Ephesians 4:2, are critical as to how we keep the unity; it’s through being completely humble and gentle. And when we are patient, bearing with one another in love then we are dosing everything to counteract the fissiaparist tendencies.
- The devil. He is a past master of the highest order in the nefarious art of bringing division in churches. Let us resist him and give him no place among us.
The intensity with which God hates disunity is seen in the fact that a division-maker should be put out of the church. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned. (Tit. 3:10-11)
Andrew Goudie was wanting to use his book to show the geography should be together as one discipline. We should similarly be relentlessly working so as our churches are together as one beautiful entity in Christ.