God is grieved by divisions in his Church. The Church is the bride of Christ, made up of the sons and daughter of God. We are his children, and if his children are known by others as being people who fight and dispute and have hatred among each other, his heart aches. We the Church are one body. Everyone has his differences but that should not hold us back from fellowshipping with other members of the Body.
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls,” Jesus said. Later, in prayer for his disciples and believers, he said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21, NKJV) Jesus, God Himself, desired that all believers be in unity as Jesus the Son of God was one with the Father God.
We are all one body. Christ is the Head, we are the Body. How can we expel the arm, or the leg, from the Body even if they can’t function as the heart? “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:12-13, NKJV) We have all been baptized into that same Body, the Body of Christ. Whether Jews or Greeks, whether Mennonite or Evangelical; whether slave or free, whether German or black – we are the Body of Christ as long as we trust in Jesus as the one who died for our sins and rose again on the third day. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28, NKJV) We are ONE! In Christ we are ONE.
Division is a tool Satan enjoys using to bring disunity in the church. He loves the petty little fights, he pokes us around to get us to dispute over silly little doctrinal differences. Was it three wisemen or were there five? Does it matter? That is not a doctrine concering Jesus as Messiah. Too much of the church has embraced the love of finding differences. Paul was disgusted about this and wrote harshly about it: “Because you are still in the flesh: for when there is envy and division among you, are you not still walking after the way of the flesh, even as natural men?” (1 Cor. 3:3, BBE) His question left little room to say “No, we are not walking after the flesh like normal sinners EVEN if we envy and dispute and have division among us!” No, his question left only room for one response, one of confession and repentance. I would have to wonder what Paul would have to say to the Church today if he were alive on earth now.
Titus had trouble in his church too, enough so that Paul gave him this advice: “… Avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition…” (Titus 3:9-10, NKJV) There is a place for, “Let’s discuss our differences,” but when every time the ‘discussion’ turns into heated debate and then arguments and catfights, there is a limit. The Lord is grieved when we live as “divisive men.”
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1:10-13, NKJV)
Can you hear the pleading voice of Paul, pleading the church to give up the division, and to be perfectly joined together in one mind? Put the last verse into our situation: Each of you says something different: one says ‘I’m a Mennonite,’ another says ‘I’m a Baptist,’ or ‘Pentecostal,’ or ‘I’m simply a Christian.’ Ask yourself, “Is Christ really that divided? Why not simply follow Christ, and then you would not need to fight about what denomination you are. I dare say Christ never identifies us as of a certain denomination. He sees us as His body, and he feels it when his body is fighting within itself. Division in the Body of Christ is like an autoimmune disease—the part that should protect its own body begins attacking other parts of the body as foreign objects. Division in the Church is a cancer that is devouring the Church right now.
Many Christians have settled for the belief that their gathering of believers is the “one true church” and that whoever does not agree will not be in heaven with them. This sounds preposterous but it is true, many religions and denominations feel this way. But this is such a tragic falsehood. Jesus says he has other sheep too. Listen to this Bible verse: “And I have other sheep which are not of this field: I will be their guide in the same way, and they will give ear to my voice, so there will be one flock and one keeper. (John 10:16, BBE emphasis added.) There are other sheep who do not graze in your field. Jesus says he will be their guide and their Saviour in the very same way that he is yours! They too will hear His voice. There will be only one flock, and one Shepherd.
In the book of Jeremiah we find a solution for disunified members of the Body. As we know, Israel was once one nation, but it divided and became Israel and Judah. "’In those days and in that time,’ says the LORD, ‘The children of Israel shall come, They and the children of Judah together; With continual weeping they shall come, And seek the LORD their God.’” (Jer. 50:4, NKJV) Would that not work? If you find that your body of believers is disputing and turning toward division, seek the Lord together. With weeping and repentance, come together to seek the face of the LORD your GOD. You serve the same God. You believe in the same Jesus Christ who came to save all nations.
As you draw nearer to God, you will draw nearer together. Forgive each other. Realize that one might believe the skirt should reach to at least the ankles and the other that it should cover the knees at least, and yet another finds no reason why not to wear pants. But ultimately, if we have given our lives to Jesus and live to obey and honour Him, does it matter? Let each do what they do in glory to God. If we all seek the LORD, unity becomes easier. God hates division, and we can do something about it. Let’s do it.
Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Cor. 13:11, NKJV)
January 23, 2008
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This is a very good article. It reminds me of a group of children arguing about who has the best, the most, etc. They argue to be right. I remember my mother saying to me (when I was in that stage) "You would argue with a signpost and then go the wrong way".... and she was right. I have matured since then, thank GOD....Perhaps a lot of spiritual growth is in order. What do you think? GOD BLESS YOU