This week we are going to approach my Biblically-based opinions on denominational divides. I truly believe that the divide among Christians based on denomination is the greatest disservice to the Church. Through our constant division and bickering over some of the most petty topics we have depleted our Spiritual and physical unity while destroying a large part of our testimony as the whole and complete body of Christ.
In John chapter 17 Jesus prayers on our behalf for just the unity that we have so fully destroyed. Verses 20-23 say this.
My prayer is not for them alone. [meaning His disciples] I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one--I in them and you in me--so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
A couple thousand years ago, Jesus prayed for you and me. He prayed for His church, His disciples. Jesus prayed for unity. He prayed this not just so that you and I could experience peace within our dealings among fellow brethren, but He prayed for this so that we might not blemish our testimony and our presentation of Christ. Christ’s desire in this prayer is that through communion and pursued unity with God the Father and His Holy Son, that we might be able to become one unit of God. One force that would let the whole world know that Jesus is the Son of God.
Yet look at us. We fight over how often communion should be served, whether dancing or instruments should be allowed in service, whether speaking in tongues and prophecy are relevant and alive still today. We debate over clothing preference, wether adoption from foreign countries is appropriate given the orphans in our own country. We debate over how much to tithe, what version of the bible give God’s Word in the most accurate way, etc, etc, etc.
Now mind you, it is not that I believe all of these topics to be unimportant. I believe many of them are. I also believe that too often we pick these little battles and turn them into big ones. We fight with each other when God has called us and always given us the example to fight for the things He leads us to. Why are we so set on dividing up those who have come to Christ into separate groupings? Why are we so stuck in our ways that we are forcing others to “circumcise” themselves over our personal convictions before we let them join our clique? Galatians 5:2 (NLT) “Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you.”
I am not telling you to compromise your convictions, only to remember that they are just that, yours. God convicted you and is calling you in a certain area. This does not mean that every other follower of Christ will be convicted in the same way on the same issue. Keep that in mind and lend grace to those who fall short of your ideas of perfection. On the other side of the coin, if, say, your brother or sister in Christ feels convicted to partake in communion weekly and you don’t believe it is necessary; ask yourself how it will affect your salvation if you partake in communion weekly with your brother or sister in order to help them maintain their convictions. 1 Corinthians 8:13 “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”
If we want to be united the way Christ prayed for us to be united then we must be willing to sacrifice for the good of our brother’s and sister’s in Christ. If we want all to hear and understand the word of God, we have to believe that whatever version of the word of God reaches their ears and convicts their hearts can transcend human error. If we want to become a strong and cohesive unit for Christ then we must give opportunity for God given individual gifts, talents, convictions, and differences in opinion to prosper. I think above all else, when it comes to unity we must remember that while God’s Holy Word is true, and pure, and accurate and infallible, that the human interpretation of His word may not always be those four things. For this reason we must be willing to have open hearts toward new convictions from God. We must be willing to not only hear, but contemplate, meditate, and pray on the convictions of others that me may weigh their validity with knowledge and wisdom from the Father, not our own stubborn desire to be the one who is right. We, the Church, are in a time where the power of the many combined in unity with God will be our most powerful and effective tool for reaching the ends of the earth. Quite honestly, I would beg to say that from the time Christ spoke that prayer a couple thousand years ago that we always existed in a time where a united Church was the most effective Church. We have strayed too far from the biblical church, it’s time to make our way back.
Check out the companion video on YouTube.