It is a fact of Christian experience that life is a series of troughs and peaks. In his efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, God relies on the troughs more than the peaks. And some of his special favorites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else.
Are dragons, like the poor, always to be with us? Veteran minister Alan Redpath was once quoted as saying, "If you're a Christian pastor, you're always in a crisis — either in the middle of one, coming out of one, or going into one."
Perhaps contentiousness and factions in the church are an inevitable consequence of original sin. But inevitable or not, they disgusted the apostle Paul, who wrote with bitter sarcasm, "No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval" (1 Cor. 11:19). A few verses later, his sarcasm set aside, he expresses his feelings directly: "Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!"
Despite our best efforts, the problems of contentious people ...1