I’m sure you must have heard the old African adage, “When two elephants fight, it is the ground that suffers.” I personally believe that this quote would be better understood if we could try to imagine how big elephant s actually are. The average adult African elephant would weigh between 4,000-7,500kg while an average Asian male would weigh between 3,000-6,000kg. One interesting fact about elephants is that they never stop growing – they continue to grow for the entirety of their lifetime. In very simple terms, elephants aren`t just big creatures – they are huge animals.
Now, can you picture two of those large mammals engaged in a fight? That`s one fight that I would definitely prefer to watch from the other end of a TV screen. A very large radius around them would literally shake. The dust raised would be enough to reduce any man`s visibility to a bare minimum.
Interestingly, I believe that elephants were employed in that adage to describe something more. Their immense size made that possible. Thankfully, that adage doesn`t just apply to animals – it is applicable to men. When two big and influential personalities clash, someone will have to bear the consequences. Usually, that someone will be a smaller person or a group of smaller people. We see this every day when policies are made by those in power in order to stifle a major opposition party. We see this when malnourished children die in their hundreds during wars. We see this everyday in the secular world. But what happens when two elephants in the Body fight? Who bears the consequences? Who eventually suffers?
I have witnessed the rising of dissensions in all the local churches that I have been part of. I have even been part of the people warring in those churches. And trust me; I always side with the strongest parties. But some of those conflicts were petty ones – no major players were involved and all parties were more or less ground-level players. Nevertheless, someone always suffers.
Church History is filled with the clashes of so many elephants in the body. Many of those conflicts have been over certain texts. Modern conflicts have also been recorded. One particular elephant-like fight has been between Cessasionists and Continualists over the issue of Spiritual Gifts. While the former claim that the end of supernatural gifts of healings, prophecy and tongues came with the death of Apostle John on the Island of Patmos around 95 AD, the latter claim that nothing has changed and that no gift ceased with the death of the last apostle. Conferences have been held, essays written, thesis presented in popular seminaries over what they call “Charismatic Madness”. John MacArthur`s Strange Fire Conference is one of such recent conferences.
In my school currently, the mother church – the University Chapel – has driven the largest fellowship on Campus out of her building. As I write this, that fellowship is renting a secular building for one of her largest programs coming up this weekend. I am not a member of any of these bodies. I wouldn`t want to throw punches in any party`s face. I am not here to paint one party as righteous and the other as not. I simply want to be realistic – two elephants are fighting. And someone always suffers. In this case, something always suffers.
Our effectiveness as a Body suffers. Our bond as brothers becomes weakened. We become the subject of mockery to the heathen – they publicly call us names, we have become a subject of ridicule. And, just as it was in Rome, the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through us. Believe it or not, we can`t fight the devil when we fight ourselves. Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall his kingdom stand?” Even the devil cannot bear to have his house divided. How then, I wonder, do we sleep comfortably every night when our Lord`s Kingdom is being divided and torn into shreds before our very eyes?
When two elephants fight in the Body, we give the devil freedom to move and act as he pleases among us. I need you as much as you need me – that`s why we are a body! When we see conflicts, we ought to pray and stand against the plan of the enemy. Why? Because the Lord`s Kingdom is at stake. And His heart bleeds when that ground shakes.
We remain one Body, purchased by the blood of one Lord, living for one Kingdom and having one blessed hope. May God bless His Church, now and forevermore. Amen.
© Eleazar Maduka, 2017