"Why can't they get along? I can't believe they are about to blow apart their church again, and it's over something so inconsequential?"

All too often, congregational fusses and fights over preferences or small offenses turn into unholy wars that lead to church divisions and splits. Ministers fired. People leave. Ministries cut. Missionaries brought home. Friendships destroyed. The real work of the kingdom is forgotten. Another young generation of believers is alienated from church life. What's the deal with this stuff? It seems to happen everywhere!

Have you ever heard of Siamese fighting fish?

These beautifully colored small fish were originally found in small puddles in the rice patties of Thailand and Southeast Asia. The males are highly aggressive and territorial. Two males should never be put into the same aquarium or they will battle until one is mortally wounded. In fact, these small fish are best suited to exist alone in one small glass bowl. They don't need much oxygen in the water to survive and they want their territory to belong only to them. They are most happy to live alone in their own small puddle or aquarium.

I fear that all too many of us as church members are like these beautiful fish: pretty on the outside, selfish and territorial on the inside, and best suited for a small aquarium where we can live as lord of our own small domain. The question I feel led to ask is as simple as it is sad.

How big is our aquarium?

Is our world so small that we cannot tolerate any other view on issues other than our own?

Are our preferences so important that we are willing to run off anyone who doesn't share our point of view?

Are our ways of doing things more important than the brokenness in the lost world around us or the wounds that we inflict on brothers and sisters in Christ to ensure that things are done our own way?

How big is our aquarium?

Or maybe the question should be asked another way.

How small is our Jesus?
How small is our Jesus?

The Bible talks about the real Jesus being Lord of all (Acts 2:36; Acts 10:36). He spoke the universe into existence (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:10) and holds it together by his sustaining word (Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:3). He is Lord of heaven and earth (Ephesians 1:10). Every knee will bow and every tongue confess him as Lord in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (Philippians 2:9-11). Jesus is Savior of the world (John 4:42). His mission for his church is to reach all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), to save people groups where we are, those who are nearby, and those who far away (Acts 1:8). He is Lord of life (Romans 6:23; Romans 14:9), having conquered the one who once held the power of death and hell (1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Hebrews 2:14-15; Revelation 1:18). He is the I AM, who is and who was and is to come (John 8:58; Revelation 1:17-18). He reigns supreme over principalities and powers (Colossians 2:9-10, 15).

Since the oceans can't contain him, how do we think we can call him Lord and live in our own isolated puddles where we want to do church our way?

How can this Jesus be our Savior and King while we isolate ourselves and insulate ourselves in our little church aquariums away from others because of our preferences and prejudices?

How can we grieve to wound and drive away those who differ with us when they are brothers and sisters for whom Jesus died to save?

How big is our aquarium?