And we told him to stop, because he was not one of us. (Mark 9:38)

“STONEWALL” JACKSON was gunned down by his own troops on the evening of May 2, 1863, at the battle of Chancellorsville. Mistaking the great Confederate general for the enemy, his troops fired and mortally wounded him. This case of “friendly fire” impacted the rest of the American Civil War.

Mistaking fellow believers for the enemy, some Christians shoot from the hip and cause tremendous damage. A talk radio program in our region specializes in “Christian-bashing.” It condemns any ministry that does not follow its precise doctrinal line. I make a little game out of the program when I listen. I like to see how long it can go without saying something negative. It usually takes thirty seconds. How sad to see such energy wasted in trashing other believers!

Recently, in casual conversation, I lampooned the antics of a young megachurch pastor who had more enthusiasm than wisdom. A friend stopped me short by responding, “My daughter found Jesus under his ministry.”

We may not share the same approach or perspective, but that does not give us liberty to criticize each other. Maybe we’re just two different crayons in the same box, and the Lord wants to use all the colors for His big picture.

Rather than sniping at our brothers and sisters, we should declare a cease-fire and refocus our guns on the real Enemy. We have much more in common than we realize.

Guard your thoughts and tongue today—encourage rather than tear down.

Mark O. Wilson is senior pastor of Hayward Wesleyan Church in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, and author of Filled Up, Poured Out (WPH) and Purple Fish (WPH).