Division focuses on points of contention that separate and bring alienation, setting one against another. This compromises the oneness of the body of Christ where, although there is diversity of belief and practice, there should be an overall agreement on the basic beliefs; a unity in the gospel, so choose to disagree rather than splitting over issues (Jn 17:11,23).
There is a difference between having opposing views on a topic and being contentious and divisive. In the last days there will be those who do not have the Spirit and so bring division, following their natural desires, contrary to the fruit of the Spirit; we are not to befriend them (Rom 16:17; 2 Tim 3:5; Tit 3:10; Jud 1:19). In a group, there will not be total agreement on all issues yet this should not prevent working together in harmony on what is the most important issue – living out the life of Christ and sharing the gospel so others come into His kingdom.
Division weakens, while agreement and unity strengthen
throughout Christian history, there have been deep and bitter division over insignificant teachings of Scripture. In essentials of faith, there must be unity, in non-essentials liberty, while in all things love.
Because division is so damaging every effort should be given to the strengthening of ties and the resolving of issues that have the potential to bring separation and marital divorce, with what was a unit is now broken into pieces (Mt 19:5,6). “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand” (Mt 12:25). Love unites while hate divides.
Paul and Barnabas had a sharp disagreement and separated (Act 15:36-41). Although they formed two teams and later there was reconciliation, it would have set a bad example besides causing the believers to also take sides and be unsettled by the upheaval.
The Bible does indicate, though, that some divisions are inescapable. The gospel demands a response. Jesus said there would be division in families when some choose to follow Him and others refuse to do so. Loyalties must be declared and commitments made, maybe even with the severing of ungodly relationships (Lk 12:51-53). In the next life, there will be an everlasting division – between those who are the Lord’s and those who are not (Mt 25:31-46). Likewise, a persistent wrongdoer who refused to repent was to be cast out of the church (1 Cor 5:2)
Although we are to be separate from the unsaved in that we do not do what they do or form binding agreements with them, we are, however, to interact with them so we can present Christ in a valid way (1 Cor 5:9,10; 2 Cor 6:14,15).
What is the reason for division?
compromising on truth or tolerating sin. Doctrine (the structured teachings of Scripture) are important and can be controversial issues, yet our common love for the Lord should be greater than our viewpoint on non-crucial aspects of the faith. Although there may be division over non-essential issues, it should not be to the extent of questioning the validity of another person's faith.
There is a good dividing which is a sharing out by distributing or apportioning as with the Promised Land between the tribes (Josh 14:5, 18:5). This can also be of practical benefit in the church to enhance performance or share responsibilities where there is no acrimony but mutual contribution eg. a division of labour such as job sharing, the utilization of special gifts or the roles of elder and deacon.