Why does God allow divisions in church?

 For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. (I Corinthians 11:19 NIV)

The Bible clearly teaches that Christians are supposed to act with love and unity, standing with each other rather than dividing each other. And yet, there are so many factions in Christianity today. Why does God allow this to happen? I believe that part of the answer is given in the verse above. I admit that this verse is difficult to interpret, but I will make a modest attempt.

What I think this verse is saying is that God allows divisions to exist so that the wise, observant Christian can tell which brothers are truly serving God, and which ones are disobedient to God. We, as human beings, are incapable of judging each other’s hearts, but when there is strife in the church, much of the heart is revealed by one’s external actions. A church fight can reveal a disobedient Christian when he reacts in anger, slander, and abuse and lies. A godly Christian is likewise manifested by the way that he responds with gentleness, love, and self sacrifice, all the while holding firmly to pure doctrine. Such a person will likely suffer the most violent attacks of anyone in the church, and yet will be the gentlest person in the church. Make sure that you defend and help such a person when they are under attack. Do not be swayed by the unfair slander that others might throw at them: who knows what else they are saying about you too behind your back?

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