There is a scene in Hotel Rawanda where Joaquin Phoenix has a conversation with a Rwandan journalist about what the difference is between a Hutu and a Tutsie. You can see it in this clip starting at 3:00
JP – “What is the actual difference between a Hutu and a Tutsie?”
Journalist – “According to the Belgian colonists the Tutsies are taller and more elegant. It was the Belgians that created the division.”
JP – “How?”
Journalist – “They pick people…those with thinner noses, lighter skin. They used to measure the width of people’s noses. The Belgians used the Tutsies to run the country and when they left they left the power to the Hutus and of course the Hutus took revenge on the Tutsies for years of oppression.”
The point is, someone from the outside picked an arbitrary line of division and then instigated a power struggle over that issue that resulted in total destruction and inhumanity. Rwanda is an extreme example of something that happens far too often in Christianity.
The issues we are willing to divide over highlights what we value most. What do the issues we divide the Lord’s body over say about our priorities? Do we value turf over core doctrine? Do we value minutia over core truths of our faith? Do we take arbitrary things and make them mandatory? I can’t help but think that much of the conflict that happens in congregations could be avoided if people were acting like Christians.